Thursday, June 12, 2008
Metallica: A Tale of Lost Fans
I don't like Metallica.
It has nothing to do with the genre of music, heavy metal, which I like. I don't like them because they don't like me.
When I was writing for Wired News in 2000, I had the unfortunate task to cover the legal battles between the record labels and technology companies like Napster, the file-sharing service. Metallica was in a unique position, though, because they owned all their original masters, which meant they were a record label in effect.
So nearly every suit -- first against companies like Napster and now against individuals using file-trading services -- was brought by the labels and Metallica.
Gradually, file-trading lawsuits fell out of the news and Metallica -- for better or worse -- went back to just making music. Some of us even thought they'd realized that suing their fans was not a great public relations move.
The band invited several blogger fans to listen to rough cuts of their new album. Predictably, those bloggers went home and wrote previews of what they heard.
Metallica's management suggested that the bloggers remove their posts, which led to a firestorm of criticism. Within hours, the online news world was abuzz with commentary and stories re-hashing the band's long-simmering feud with netizens.
Metallica, to their credit, issued a statement within a day or so saying that they hadn't asked for the posts to be removed and went so far as to provide links to the post on their website.
But the reality is this: Their reputation with fans, particularly those who exist online (and that is becoming an increasingly important component of the industry), has been damaged once again.
By Brad at 11:40 AM | Comments (5)