Black Keys Withold New 'El Camino' LP From Spotify, Other Streaming Services

6:44 PM PST 12/08/2011 by Devon Maloney, Billboard
Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Bethesda Softworks

The band joins Coldplay, Mac Miller and Tom Waits as recent artists to shun the sites.

Many artists have doubts about music-streaming services, largely due to the fear that companies like Spotify and Rhapsody detract from already declining music sales.

The Black Keys are the latest addition to that group: their recently released El Camino LP is nowhere to be found on Spotify, MOG, Rdio or Rhapsody. 

"As always, we're just adhering to the requests of the content provider," MOG spokeswoman Marni Greenberg told the LA Times yesterday. "We're hopeful we'll have the record on our service soon," a rep for Rdio told Bloomberg.

Both the band and Spotify have declined to comment on the Black Keys' decision, though the streaming service has sounded off on similar situations, notably when Coldplay kept Mylo Xyloto for purchasing only. Unsurprisingly, Spotify staunchly defend their claim that music streaming--specifically their service--boosts album sales in areas where it is available to consumers.

"Artists can -- and do -- receive very substantial revenues from Spotify, and as Spotify grows, these revenue streams will naturally continue to grow," Ken Parks, Spotify's head of U.S. operations, told the LA Times back in October when Mylo dropped. "Spotify is now the second single largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe, and we've driven more than $150 million of revenue to ... artists, publishers and labels since our launch three years ago."

Acts like Coldplay, Mac Miller, and Tom Waits have also declined the addition of their latest releases to all streaming services, and Adele's chart-owning 21 is not available in its entirety on Spotify. All of these artists have debuted albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart this year. Coldplay moved over 500,000 digital downloads in Mylo Xyloto's first week, while the independent Miller sold 144,000 copies of his album Blue Slide Park.

As Billboard.biz has calculated, at Spotify's payout rate of 1.146 cents per stream, it would take 64 full streams for an artist to reap the same profit they'd see from the gross revenue rights of one 99-cent download. While this discrepancy makes comparatively little difference for artists like Drake or Nickelback -- both of whose 2011 LPs were available on music streaming services on their release date -- it has a strong effect on artists, particularly indie artists, with much smaller sales.

Industry sources have projected that the Black Keys will sell upwards of 175,000 copies its first week; that figure probably won't put them at No. 1, however, thanks to the expected continued reign of Michael Buble's Christmas album.

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