Black Keys drummer: Musicians can't trust Sean Parker

Are The Black Keys this generation's version of Metallica? The band is bucking a trend in subscription music that even the labels love.

The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach (left) and Patrick Carney don't trust Sean Parker. theblackkeys.com

Sean Parker is an enemy of music artists.

That's according to Patrick Carney, drummer of the rock band The Black Keys. Carney offered his opinion of Parker during an interview with radio station WGRD.

"He's an ass----," Carney told the station. "That guy has $2 billion that he made from figuring out ways to steal royalties from artists, and that's the bottom line. You can't really trust anybody like that."

Parker is an investor in Spotify and Facebook, but his connection to Spotify is presumably only one part of why Carney finds him troubling. (Singer Justin Timberlake portrayed Parker in the Facebook-origins movie "The Social Network" -- "This is our time!" )

Along with Shawn Fanning, Parker was also one of the founders of iconic file-sharing service Napster, which gave birth to the illegal downloading of music more than a decade ago.

Parker was not immediately available for comment.

The Black Keys are a two-member band that plays some of the most lowdown and rockin' good blues out there now.

But the band also risks becoming this generation's version of Metallica, the heavy metal group that tried confronting Napster and illegal file sharing in 2001 and in the process alienated much of their audience.

There's a backlash among some music acts against subscription music services, and The Black Keys seem to be at the forefront. Managers of such acts as Coldplay, Adele, Tom Waits, and others argue that Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, and MOG satisfy a lot of demand without returning meaningful revenue to artists.

The Black Keys have withheld their latest album, "El Camino," from being distributed on subscription streaming services, even though these services are becoming increasingly popular with the public. The holdout acts say they won't take part in a bigger way until the services begin forking over more money.

Sean Parker, center, has been a disruptive force in music for years and he appears to relish that role. Greg Sandoval/CNET

The subscription services argue that they are just now getting their footing with mainstream music listeners. There's evidence to support this claim. The Recording Industry Association of America reported sales figures for 2011 yesterday and revenue for subscription music rose 13 percent in 2011 while the number of paying subscribers climbed 18 percent.

The refreshing thing about the Keys is that at least they're not trying to hide their motivation behind some altruistic claim of helping younger bands or artists. They make it clear they want to get paid.

"Trust me, [Auerbach] and I like to make money," Carney told WGRD. "If it was fair to the artist we would be involved in it. I honestly don't want to see Sean Parker succeed in anything. I imagine if Spotify becomes something that people are willing to pay for, then I'm sure iTunes will just create their own service, and they're actually fair to artists."

Update 10:54 a.m. PT To include RIAA sales figures for subscription music services.

 

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