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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.

Bad idea

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)

(5) Thoughts on Metallica: A Tale of Lost Fans

Lars is the man in the relationship.

Comments by James Hetfield : Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 12:17 PM

I bully James and the other guys around for fun.

Comments by Lars Ulrich : Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 12:18 PM

@James and @Lars


Comments by Brad King : Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Nothing like whining about the "right" to steal music. Nice.

Comments by snorker : Friday, June 13, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Actually, the piece is about Metallica inviting bloggers to hear rough cuts -- and then their management company demanding the bloggers take down their posts.

Metallica's previous suits, which I reference, came at a time when the issues of file-sharing in this country were being sorted out.

I'm sure you know that most other industrialized countries didn't hold networks responsible for user activity (unlike the U.S.); in the same way Sony was not liable for how you used your VCR.

There is a not-so-subtle difference.

And I'm also sure you know that Metallica's stance was the the technology should be illegal (which means your audio recorders, your iPod, ect -- anything that "copies music" -- would have been illegal).

I had a front row seat to their disputes -- both from interviews and two years covering the trials.

Comments by Brad King : Friday, June 13, 2008 at 02:03 PM

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