Updating this post with this recent video interview with Dan and Pat addressing issues of “selling out”.
This post has been updated since it was first published
Fans have overwhelmingly expressed, in 354+ comments on The Black Keys Facebook page, that the band has “sold out” following an announcement that a new song, “Chop And Change”, will be a part of the soundtrack for the third installment of extremely popular vampire movie franchise “Twilight”.
The Black Keys have sold out? Yeah, sure. If anything, they’ve finally just sold in on their own terms. Witness these quotes and examples to follow.
Questions of selling out and who the band’s audience and fan-base is have often been dealt with by the band in the past, it’s really nothing very new. It seems people just seem to hate Twilight much more than anything else that the band has been connected to.
In most cases, the term “sold out” would be fantastic news to artists in regards to shows, books, CDs, etc. It simply claims that the artist/event is doing so well that they have run out of space or items and that it is pretty much exclusive and rare – a privilege, really. It’s heartbreaking to the people who did not get a chance to be a part of it, but it does hint at success, which can obviously be rendered in many different ways. For people who appreciate “underground” or lesser-known works or talents, however, “selling out” is the worst possible brand that you can get from a fan – it pretty much means that you are now not good enough to be appreciated anymore, and that you are now “mainstream” or “too trendy.”
On the angry Facebook thread, some fans do mention that “Twilight” actually has pretty good artists contributing to their soundtracks. Based on the franchise’s overall guaranteed success, star power and worldwide recognition, the track list for the third movie installment “Eclipse” has some other notable inclusions.
Twilight “Eclipse” soundtrack listings – artist and song:
- Metric, “Eclipse (All Yours)”
- Muse, “Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)”
- The Bravery, “Ours”
- Florence and the Machine, “Heaven In Your Arms”
- Sia, “My Love”
- Fanfarlo, “Atlas”
- The Black Keys, “Chop And Change”
- The Dead Weather, “Rolling In On A Burning Tire”
- Beck and Bat for Lashes, “Let’s Get Lost”
- Vampire Weekend, “Jonathan Low”
- UNKLE (featuring the Black Angels), “With You In My Head”
- Eastern Conference Champions, “A Million Miles An Hour”
- Band of Horses, “Life On Earth”
- Cee-Lo Green, “What Part Of Forever”
- Howard Shore, “Jacob’s Theme”
Since The Black Keys formed in 2002 (they’ve been around for 8 years and have known each other since they were 10), they have simply marketed themselves to appeal to the world – anyone and everyone who can listen to their music is welcome, and the more exposure they promote and receive, the better they will feel. I think this should be a general outlook for anyone who just loves music and what they do.
Dan and Patrick’s style and appreciation of music is very genuine and unique. If they get a chance to promote their music to a very huge audience, why wouldn’t they take it? Yes, a vast majority of the “Twilight” franchise fans are young teens and women, but I think the idea that they will be exposed to an amazing and quality band like the Keys will be beneficial to EVERYONE.
I am still blown away that people could say such negative and obscene things about the ‘Keys just because they are contributing some music to another film.
Take a look at where The Black Keys’ music has previously been featured in the media (source: Wikipedia):
- “When the Lights Go Out” – In film Black Snake Moan, and also on the soundtrack for that movie.
- “Set You Free” – In film School of Rock, and also on the soundtrack for that movie.
- “Lies” – Featured in the conclusion of the February 4, 2009 episode of Lie to Me.
- “Girl Is on My Mind” – Was used in a 2006 Sony Ericsson advertisement, starring the tennis players Ana Ivanović and Daniela Hantuchová.
- “Girl Is on My Mind” – Used in a 2006 Victoria’s Secret commercial featuring Heidi Klum.
- “Girl Is on My Mind” – film Rest Stop and Cashback.
- “10 am Automatic” – Used in the video game MLB ’06: The Show, The O.C., The Go-Getter, and was also used in a 2007 American Express commercial starring Shaun White.
- “Your Touch” – Featured in a 2007 Lee’s jeans commercial, and can be heard both in an episode of NBC’s Friday Night Lights and in an episode of “Eastbound and Down”.
- “Your Touch” can also be heard in the HBO series “Entourage” in the episode ‘Manic Monday’, during the opening scenes.
- “Your Touch” – In film Zombieland.
- “Your Touch” – In an episode of “Eastbound and Down” on HBO.
- “Grown So Ugly” – Heard in the background of the going away party in the 2007 film Cloverfield.
- “Strange Times” – Used in Grand Theft Auto IV on the in-game radio station Radio Broker.
- “Strange Times” – Heard during a preview for ABC’s The Mole, and the trailer for season three of the Showtime series Dexter, as well as a promo for Gossip Girl.
- “Just Got To Be” – Used on the soundtrack for the video game NHL 08.
- “Hard Row” – Featured in the premiere episode of the FoX show Sons of Anarchy.
- “Keep Me” – In both Episodes 6 and 7 of the Fox show Sons of Anarchy.
- “Busted” _ In episode 7 of the first season.
- “Lies” – Featured in the advertising campaign for the third season of HBO’s Big Love.
- “The Breaks” – In film RocknRolla.
- “Psychotic Girl” – Featured the episode “Messin’ with the Kid” in season 6 of One Tree Hill.
- “I’ll Be Your Man” – Theme song for the HBO show Hungand was also featured in an episode of the Fox Network show Rescue Me.
- “The Wicked Messenger” – In film “I’m Not Here”, a Bob Dylan bio-pic
In this fantastic snippet from an audio interview from NPR on Day to Day on February 18, 2009, Dan comments on “Grand Theft Auto IV”, about their music winding up in these places:
I think it’s cool, I mean, you know, they don’t play music much on the radio anymore; you know, not majorly. Getting our music out there as much as possible, it’s the way to go. Video games are pretty huge, although I can’t really play video games. Yeah, I get seasick.
The interviewer then asks what film, TV show or video game he’d like to have his music in and he ironically answers:
Wow. Maybe, like, a Martin Lawrence movie. Martin Lawrence’s big comeback film.
In a recent interview in March 2010, Patrick frankly admits:
Our mission was and still is to be able to pay our rent playing music.
This quote from September 2006 sums up the band’s attitude better than anything else. Pat is commenting on the discussion fans have about where The Black Keys’ music ends up:
Well, I remember when Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” was in that Volkswagen commercial, and I thought that was very strange. I mean, you feel like you’re the only one that likes Nick Drake, when in reality there were thousands and thousands and thousands of people who have been fans of his for a lot longer than me. And because of that commercial, a lot of people know who he is. Maybe he’s rolling in his grave—I think that might be questionable when you’re dead. For us, it’s easier to justify doing a commercial. Modest Mouse did a commercial for Nissan, we did a commercial for Nissan as well. I was a fan of The Shins before their first seven-inch even came out, and they had a song on a McDonald’s commercial. I see no problem with it—at the time, no one knew who those bands were. Now people do, and I think they make awesome music. It obviously hasn’t corrupted them. Rancid got nearly two million dollars to do a shampoo commercial—I don’t know, maybe that’s the punkest thing they could do. If someone offers you enough money to buy a new guitar and pay your rent for a while, and you don’t have to do anything for it…the only thing you have to do is take the flak. We’ve turned down ads, we don’t take everything we get. We turned down a Hummer ad. We finish records in a basement, we live in Akron, Ohio. Not too long ago we were making five bucks an hour.
Finally, in this 2010 interview Dan matter of factly sums up the band’s attitude to having their music used for commercial purposes:
The only major regret of their career is turning down, on their manager’s advice, $130,000 for a British mayonnaise commercial. “That would have paid my rent for two years,” mutters Auerbach. “It’s almost insulting to my mom, who works every day teaching kids and doesn’t get paid shit. As long as your art is pure, who cares where it is?” Carney nods emphatically and adds, “So we fired his ass.”
Dan also discusses the commercial here in more depth:
“It was a mayonnaise commercial. That was one of the most surreal offers, and we turned it down, stupidly. I say stupid because it was hilarious in a few different ways – firstly here’s this big company that wants to pay us a huge amount of money so they could use a song we recorded in a basement for like $2, and secondly because, at the time, we were driving everywhere – criss-crossing the country in a Fordor! So for us to turn it down because we didn’t want to be sell outs was stupid. It’s a weird world.”
“Do you think that, in this age of record sale declines, bands should feel free to sell their music to commercials?”
“Bands can do whatever they want to do. Pat and I made our first four records on our own, and they cost next to nothing. We worked harder than pretty much any band I’ve ever met, never setting foot in a first class plane seat but travelling all over the world. We never once had anyone else have an artistic say in what we do – Pat’s brother did the artwork for our first demo, and he still does the artwork for our records.
“So as long as you can keep in control of your art, what does it matter where it gets played? What’s the point of going on the road and touring, trying to promote your record, then turning down the opportunity to have your music played because of some bullshit stigma? It’s all in everybody’s head.”
It was also recently reported that the way band’s make money has irrevocably changed:
“How certain artists make money is changing, and it’s less about albums and it can be more about licensing income,” Tortella said. “For The Black Keys, that (licensing) is their number one source of income.”
Clearly the band were sensitive enough about claims they have been selling out to publicly take the piss out of themselves with this witty rejoinder on the Colbert Report. The last word to Stephen Colbert: “Clearly you have both equally whored out your music.” Well, to the cynical yes. For the rest, no one really cares so long as the music remains righteous – and it has.
And now something for everyone: