The mechanisms of the music industry are an on-going obsession for Access All Areas, and the topic was addressed this week on Joe Rogan’s podcast when he interviewed rock band The Black Keys.

Vocalist Patrick Carney said the industry’s obsession with metrics is detrimental to music quality. “These major labels are signing shit that has the most social media interaction, and I was like, ‘you know what, when I was nine years old I bought Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby and I listened to that shit like 250 times in a week like a fucking idiot’. That’s who’s listening to this shit that’s getting a billion streams in a month… I like to think our fans have a hundred and fifty albums that they listen to on a sort of rotation.”

He went on to challenge the changing concepts of commercial viability. “There used to be records made by these insanely eccentric weirdo people that never sold records, but have changed our lives, like Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits… It’s a much different type of commercially viable thing now.”

Elsewhere, Carney discussed Metallica’s Lars Ulrich’s criticism of mp3 pirating in the early 2000s. He said: “[Ulrich] was this really wealthy guy who was a huge success saying ‘don’t do this it is stealing’… I mean clearly people shouldn’t steal, but is it Metallica’s job to tell people that? Maybe they should have gone directly to Napster or to the record label.

“We had a talk with a friend of ours [when commercial streaming was emerging] and he basically encouraged us to not do it, and it went from that to talking to someone at Warner Brothers who, when we said we didn’t want to do it, was kind of outraged.

The band’s evolving opinions on streaming is covered later. Carney said: “I was quoted in Rolling Stone talking shit about like [Napster’s] Sean Parker and Spotify and I end up getting a phone call or an email from Daniel Eck, the owner Spotify, and we had lunch together. He’s fucking cool guy, he’s a nice, nice guy and very intelligent and I really saw his side of it for the first time. Basically without explaining it directly, he was like: ‘you know that we’re paying your label to get your music? What they do with the money I can’t control.

“I realised billions of dollars of stock were sent and the label has no obligation – they just gave us a couple hundred thousand dollars of it out of the billion. They paid it as an artist royalty and took all these deductions off. There’s a lot of money in the music industry right now.”

Quotes paraphrased for clarity

Watch the full episode here:

Read more on streaming and the music industry in Access’ May issue