Metallica Sued Napster For This?

from the pound-foolish dept

David Levine has a post up looking at Metallica’s revenue streams last year. Apparently, the band made the vast majority of its money from concert revenue — bringing in $22.8 million. It made $1.6 million from album sales. As Levine notes:

Hmmm…think it would make a lot of difference to the world if they lost the $1.6 million from the albums? Without copyright they’d only make $22.8 million from touring…You might almost think it would be worth it to them to give the recorded music away for free to promote their concerts…

Or, hell, give away the tracks and promote other stuff as well. Selling music directly (relying on copyright) is a tiny business compared to the opportunities elsewhere. And, of all the bands out there, Metallica should clearly recognize that.

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Comments on “Metallica Sued Napster For This?”

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95 Comments
wheatus (user link) says:

I just cannot....

….Bring myself to be angry with Metallica for reasons that will indeed become clear to all upon listening to their version of Breadfan on vinyl at an ear splitting decibel level.

Do I support their stance on Napster?… no but…I dare you to be mad at them after that breadfan shit rips your silly notions of metal, and music for that matter, to smithereens..

bbb
wheatus.com

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

More guff about huge bands, who spent / are spending time on major labels. Completely irrelevent to the plight of smaller independent acts trying to push forward with the “new model”. Can we have less of this and more about how small bands – without rich patrons – can secure finance without selling their souls?

DP, when I write about small bands, I’m told “this will never work for big bands.” When I write about big bands I’m told “I only care about small bands.”

We write about what we find interesting — which is a mix of everything — because I believe that’s the best way to FULLY understand these issues.

Devilish Presley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

@ Mike.

Thanks for your reply, much appreciated.

We think your model will work for both big and small bands. The only thing we see as a slight flaw in it – is that the small bands have to get to a certain level before CwF + RtB becomes a viable model for them. That’s why we dismissed the big bands, it will OBVIOUSLY work for them as you explained very convincingly re: NIN.

If you can explain to us how small bands can achieve that level without selling their soul to an “old model” label – or giving away the rights to their “scarce goods” to a “new model” manager or label. We will then be certain that we “FULLY” understand this as well as you do.

kryptonianjorel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Remember, there aren’t a whole lot of small bands out there that are any good. I’m not saying that most small bands aren’t good, just that if they are, they usually sell out to a record company, and then they become ‘big bands’.

On the other hand, there are plenty of big bands who aren’t any good, and the record label messed up by signing them; these bands often stop being big bands, or just aren’t very successful.

I guess its time for some bands to admit to themselves that they aren’t good enough to get rich and famous off their music. I’m all for music diversity, but some bands need to except that their music will never have a big following. Maybe they might even get a decent following, but people don’t consider them good enough to go to their concerts or buy their swag.

Small bands that are excellent, and that promote themselves via CwF + RtB type ideas will get known and will make money. This obviously won’t work with small bands that are only good, just like the traditional model doesn’t work with big bands that are only ‘good’, since every week we leave behind one hit wonders.

Devilish Presley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

@ Kryptonianjorel.

“Remember, there aren’t a whole lot of small bands out there that are any good. I’m not saying that most small bands aren’t good, just that if they are, they usually sell out to a record company, and then they become ‘big bands’.”

You are obviously still clinging to the old model, no small band that is good would want to get involved with a label these days. They risk going down with the old system.

Nice try.

Next.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“If you can explain to us how small bands can achieve that level without selling their soul to an “old model” label – or giving away the rights to their “scarce goods” to a “new model” manager or label. We will then be certain that we “FULLY” understand this as well as you do.”

Simple find some self promotion guru that has a couple hundred thousand fans on face book, find someone on youtube that has 1 million hits, find someone with a massive following on any social networking site, find a huge blog, find a musician thats has a big … blog, and introduce yourself and ask if they could listen to your music and if they can suggest anyone that could help promote you. Then maintain that relationship by asking for guidance. What do you think? would your fans like this? etc….

We are going back to the way things worked before record labels, you need fans, you need patrons. Find a bunch of mentors and promoters. It is really simple start networking. Start with people who are can be accessed and work your way up the food chain. Find artists from 10-40 years ago, studio musicians, back up singers, people that have dropped out of the business after a couple hits and ask … “what do you think of this track? I just want your opinion. My friend told me it sounds like that track you did with (insert artist name here). Personally I dont hear it. What do you think?”

If you have talent it helps. If you dont find someone to remix horrible sound of cats in a blender you consider good into something pleasant on the ears.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you can explain to us how small bands can achieve that level without selling their soul to an “old model” label – or giving away the rights to their “scarce goods” to a “new model” manager or label. We will then be certain that we “FULLY” understand this as well as you do.

DP, I’ve discussed numerous less well known bands that have succeeded with this kind of model:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091119/1634117011.shtml

But the basic answer is that you start small — just like any band — and build up a fanbase, and do the same basic things at a more local level. But keep pushing and expanding.

Devilish Presley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

@ Mike.

Once again thanks for your time.

Excellent, hadn’t seen the article provided by that link. Both Corey Smith and Mathew Ebel provide examples of what we are looking for. So you have proved your point as far as we are concerned.

Glad to see Mathew Ebel has decided to ditch Sellaband and is encouraging his supporters to deal directly with him.

Cheers.
Jacqui & Johnny.
Devilish Presley.

AdamR (profile) says:

Funny thing is when they were first starting out they left the LA hair band music scene and moved to SF to connect with what they believed was their core audience and built a strong following. They had great live shows and gave away their music(LP’s). There was a big bootleg scene of their live shows and that only made them bigger and built a strong bond between themselves and their fans. They blew it all going after Napster, they turned beloved awesome band to a bunch greedy frakers. The cherry on top for me was on the Some Kind of Monster documentary showing King Ass Hat Lars sipping on champagne while auctioning some art and making million of what he paid original. Then had had the nerve to rally against Napster saying the people were stealing food off his table.

herodotus (profile) says:

“I just cannot….Bring myself to be angry with Metallica for reasons that will indeed become clear to all upon listening to their version of Breadfan on vinyl at an ear splitting decibel level.”

Much as I agree with you on the subject of that particular cover, it can not overcome the disgust that must overwhelm any sane person upon hearing more than a minute of St. Anger.

A shittier, more expensively produced album has yet to see the light of day.

McBeese says:

Re: Well...

Yes, Rocker, that is exactly what the members of the entitlement society will tell you here.

They will steal your music and explain to you that it’s your fault because anything digital is so easy to steal and because your business model is broken.

I happen to agree with them that new business models are needed, but I disagree that that gives them the right to steal in the meantime.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Well...

Actually, I haven’t heard anybody ever suggest stealing. That would be incredibly stupid in the current age. What would be the point when we can just replicate the digital info of our own music to share amongst each other and happily leave the artist’s copies for his own enjoyment?

McBeese says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Well...

No, I didn’t fall for it. This is like a site full of wanna-be lawyers. You use the ‘steal’ or ‘theft’ word and they all scurry around with their dictionaries countering with words like ‘infringement’ or whatever. I don’t care. You take something that you don’t have a right to take, you’re a thief in my books.

Joe Perry (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Well...

just because you consider someone who takes things they don’t have the right to take a thief doesn’t mean that’s how the law perceives it. so how does your inability to understand laws and the difference between stealing and pirating make us “wanna-be lawyers?” if knowing the proper terms for law makes me a wanna-be lawyer then I suppose knowing art terms and history makes me a wanna-be artist, etc. Apparently I’m a wanna-be in a lot of things, seeing as I try to be knowledgeable about many topics.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Well...

McBeese wrote:
I don’t care. You take something that you don’t have a right to take, you’re a thief in my books.

Thankfully, not in the book of the law of the land.

Amusingly, of course, in this very same thread, McBeese wrote:

If you don’t like the laws of this country, work to have them changed, go somewhere else, or shut up.

Time for you to take your advice. Under the laws of this land, copyright infringement is not theft. So, time for you to work to have them changed, go somewhere else, or shut up.

At least according to McBeese.

So which one are you choosing, McBeese?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Well...

McBeese;

VERY VERY well said, but you overlooked that little mikee m will also claim that you are the one that is a member of the “entitlement” society, and the goverment is only making it worse for you by granting you a “monopoly” on your very own work…

And providing you with a license called copyright to steal from society for your lifetime plus 70 years. Sad,sad,sad..

McBeese says:

Re: Re: Re: Well...

You need to run to a dictionary to see if I have the *exactly* correct use of the word steal? That is the kind of pedantic thinking that everyone here hides behind. Taking something that you aren’t legally entitled to according to the laws of this country is wrong. I call it stealing, you call it whatever you want. I don’t care what you call it. If you don’t like the laws of this country, work to have them changed, go somewhere else, or shut up.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well...

“I call it stealing”
and are factually incorrect

“you call it whatever you want.”
I call it copyright infringement, which has the benefit of being correct.

Similarly, if someone starts a fire, I call it arson, not jaywalking. There are reasons we call different things by different words. It helps have a rational discourse with shared understandings.

“If you don’t like the laws of this country, work to have them changed”
Agreed.

“go somewhere else”
I occasionally do, thanks.

“or shut up.”
Not an option. And not really aligned with the spirit of the US constitution. But that’s where you’re at.

McBeese says:

Re: Re: Re: Well...

Wrong. It’s not about sitting on your ass, it’s about creating music that may not be designed for bars and stadiums.

Remember the Beatles? Yeah, them. They stopped touring because they wanted to keep pushing the bounds of creativity and the music they were developing couldn’t be replicated properly in a live setting. They weren’t sitting on their asses. They also limited the amount of merchandise sales to preserve the value of the Beatles brand.

You may like The Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears, but many of us appreciate real music and we feel that artists should be able to get paid for creating it.

Really? says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well...

“Remember the Beatles? Yeah, them. They stopped touring because they wanted to keep pushing the bounds of creativity and the music they were developing couldn’t be replicated properly in a live setting.”

Really?
I always wondered why the band broke up. and now I finally have the answer.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Well...

Wait, what?? Yoko was against copyright or for it now? I can’t keep up.

“Wrong. It’s not about sitting on your ass, it’s about creating music that may not be designed for bars and stadiums.”

…and THEN sitting on your ass because you are entitled to a never-ending stream of money for work you finished years before.

“You may like The Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears, but many of us appreciate real music”

Maybe I do like Britney, maybe CVPunk does, maybe not. But how taste in music matter to the discussion?

“and we feel that artists should be able to get paid for creating it.” and so do we. No regular poster on the Techdirt board is against artist getting paid for their work and contributions. No one advocates stealing, and almost no regular poster here advocates copyright infringement.

But we do advocate delivering ongoing value for ongoing revenue. We do advocate more fair use and public domain, and the incredible value they create. We do advocate the use and understanding of economics to issues of intellectual property and copyright. We do advocate the use of modern business models to reward and compensate artists. And we do exercise our right to free speech and to vote and work towards our goals.

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well...

I’m sorry, so I am required to buy their music even if:
a) I don’t like it
b) I like it, but hate getting it on CD
c) I like it, but hate having to buy multiple copies
d) I like it, but prefer to listen to bands that are accessible and highly interested in their fans
e) I like it, but don’t find $15 of value in a piece of plastic
f) I like it, but want to be able to share it with my friends

Sorry, I choose no thanks. Oh, wait, you won’t make any money–guess I’ll just keep paying my taxes and your unemployment…

Joe Perry (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well...

I’m getting tired of people posting about how the frequenters of techdirt advocate stealing. first of all, piracy isn’t stealing, there is a difference between the crimes. second, I’ve never seen a post seriously advocating pirating here. we’re not arguing that we should be allowed to take your music for free and you should find a new way to make money. we simply argue that many people are pirating and it’s almost impossible to stop so a new business model is needed to succeed. saying pirating exists isn’t the same as saying that pirating should be allowed.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Well...

On the contrary, I for one prefer artists who concentrate on producing new music rather than touring.

What you have to recognise is that if you want to make more money out of it then you have to build a business model around it, whether that be merchandise or something else. Pointing to other peoples business models and saying ‘I don’t want to do that’ doesn’t help much, especially when you don’t say why.

McBeese says:

Re: Re: Well...

How about collecting a check for producing superior music that you might want to listen to instead of touring to sell t-shirts?

Remember the Beatles? Yeah, them. They stopped touring because they wanted to keep pushing the bounds of creativity and the music they were developing couldn’t be replicated properly in a live setting. They also limited the amount of merchandise sales to preserve the value of the Beatles brand.

You may like The Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears, but many of us appreciate real music and we feel that artists should be able to get paid for creating it.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Well...

What if I am an artist that does not want to tour at all?

What if I’m a writer that doesn’t want to put up any of my content?

See… you have to do what the market says. That doesn’t mean you have to tour. In fact many of the models we’ve discussed (like Josh Freese’s and Motoboy’s) had nothing at all to do with touring.

But it does take away one arena from which you can make money. That’s your choice, but don’t blame the world for telling you you picked a bad business model.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Well...

Well, are you a better musician than Mozart? Because even he had to work for a living and do concerts.

Recording technology changed the options for musicians…but then other technologies changed the options again. And many examples out there demonstrate that the market for good music is pretty swell. Deal.

The era you long for lasted a trivial portion of human history, heck, not even the full 20th century.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“vivaelamor: this is the actual profit – this is the first billboard’s money makers list that’s based on the actual share revenue, not money generated by the bands / artists.. and btw.: Metallica earns almost $3 per CD”

Thanks, I caught that after I read the Billboard site too. At first I’d thought Dave had skimped on the numbers but it turns out the word had just been taken out of context so it was at least partly my bad.

Btw, I have no sympathy for Metallica, time and time again they prove themselves to be morons. It is a shame because I grew up listening to their earlier albums (which I bought, more’s the pity).

What would be really interesting is what they make on merchandise.

i ate my wheatus says:

@wheatus

ya its all clear that the radio stations and labels wouldnt even listen to them until the bootleg tapes we all had in the hundreds a thousands suddenly dawned on some greedy yacht building program to get in on it all.

LIKE where would metallica be without guys like me
SUCKING DICK on hollywood bullavard with all the other faggits

wallow-T says:

Rocker asks: “What if I am an artist that does not want to tour at all?” Pretty much, you’re out of luck. No more Kate Bushes or Glenn Goulds. Maybe Glenn Gould can get grant funding.

But before the early 1900’s musicians couldn’t make money on recordings either. There was a window of about a century, between the time that recordings were possible at all–with sizable capital cost– and the time that anyone could clone recordings for zero cost.

And I suspect the phenomenon of the non-touring recording artist was limited to a few cases from 1950-2000.

It’s not that different from the 18-month period in the early 1950s when the Big Bands collapsed — suddenly what people were willing to pay for music would not support a dozen musicians in a group. The way that performers can make money is going to change as a function of the economy, and technology is one factor in that economy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Y’know, I’ve said it before in some places, but whatever.

Bands and record companies don’t care whether they’re making money; they care whether they’re making *as much (or more) money as they are now*.

Using this example, if Metallica stopped selling albums, they’d lose $1.6 million. Whether or not that’s a lot of money compared to the $22.8 million they’ve made from live shows is irrelevant. It’s $1.6m that they wouldn’t have. They’ve gone from $24.2m to $22.8m

You could argue that the promotion and good PR made from giving the music away would make them more than $1.6m in the long run, but that’s not what they see. They see a definite $1.6m from sales or a *possible* (and risky) $1.6m+ from giving it away. In their eyes, it’s not worth it.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“They see a definite $1.6m from sales or a *possible* (and risky) $1.6m+ from giving it away.”

Are you sure they don’t see it as, “We’ve made $1.6m from album sales. Just think how much we’d have made if it wasn’t for those pirates!”?

What I’d like to do is track their earnings from 1990 to 2000 and see what effect the internet had on their overall earnings, album profits in particular. Did they really see a significant dip in album profits starting with Napster’s surge in popularity around 1998? If so did overall profits decrease, increase or stay the same?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There is more FREE music available than PAY music, in the whole wide world, at this very moment. True story.

Not all .mp3 files are 99 cents. On some musician’s websites, they give them away, for FREE.

Seems like an awful lot of competition for those who traffic in PAY music, all that FREE music, being available.

I know! Let’s demonize human nature!

“We’re raising an entire generation of thieves, a society of stealers!”

Another AC says:

Re: Re:

No I won’t. 99 cents is way too much. when I can buy a pack of 100 songs for a few bucks, then maybe I will pay for music again. Until then, the radio and my 10 year old collection of stupid plastic disks will just have to do.

If you can’t figure out how to make money while you give away your advertising, find a new line of work and stop whining.

Cynyr (profile) says:

Re: Re:

so for a guess at a CD, i haven’t gotten new music in years, 12 songs at an average of 3 minutes. so thats 36 minutes of music, is $12. A blockbuster movie new release on dvd is $15-$20(we’ll use 20), so cost/minute on the CD is 12 songs at $0.99 per song(your number), thats $11.88/36 or, $0.33 per minute. A dvd, just the special feature, is around 1.5-2 hours (I’ll use 1.5, well lets use 1.25 as the running times include the credits, and who watches those?) so we get $20/75 minutes, or $0.26/minute. Granted music does have more replay value than a movie usually. but still the cost per minute of music is higher, and thats not counting things like the bonus features on the DVD. The CD is more of a marketing tool for the band than the dvd is for the studio, no studio has the option of playing in the local bar.

Whisk33 says:

Copyright effects

Wouldn’t (or perhaps more accurately couldn’t)a lack of copyright hurt their performance sales. I might be wrong, but it is copyright that prevents others from performing the same songs that they perform correct? So if copyright was abolished, it would likely have some effect in the ticket sales. (assuming other bands would copy the good songs and people would go to those bands in place of…)

Yes there is an argument for the “originator” or “first” that would be more apparent once copiers are prevalent, but I think my example still holds weight, correct?
The point I guess would be how we adapt to that change from the way things are done now and also to say that the current figure of 23mil from touring isn’t a constant when copyright is finally dispelled, which is sometimes a notion that I feel is believed.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Copyright effects

I haven’t heard anybody say anything about “abolishing” copyright. Mike and most so called “copyleftists” want to LIMIT copyright, not get rid of it.

But honestly, why should Metallica care if someone else starts performing their songs (which often happens; they’re called tribute bands)? It’s (again) free publicity for them, and it’s not like nobody would recognize if someone tried to pass off one of Metallica’s songs as one of their own.

Any band that tried to pass of the song as an original would lose credibility with their fans once the fraud was discovered.

Sos (profile) says:

The Tea Party timeline - true story

One teenager get a promo copy of The Tea Pary’s “Edges of Twilight” CD form his dad who is a label promoter.

Teenager takes it to school and a few friends listen. Teenager makes a copy of the album on tape.

Friends play it to friends. More copies made.

The Tea Party tours. By now over 20 friends from the one high school are into the band. All buy tickets to the concert. Concert is amazing.

All 20 friends have been going as a group to Tea Party concerts, Jeff Martin solo gigs and The Armada concerts for over 10 years.

Number of CD’s sold: 0

bentf1 (profile) says:

INSANE

I dont understand why metallica cops so much shit.
firstly it was about other people profiting from there music.
It is there right to sue someone who profits from there music.
Yes they are hugely successfull & have made squillions & they deserve it . they have provided over 100 million people with enjoyment and the way it stands there will be no other band like them in our lifetime.
Who cares though if people download or buy it is what it is
RADIOHEAD , TEAPARTY they are not even in metallicas league . Look at metallicas stage show and look at radioheads dont make me laugh.
Metallica are the kings of metal and tough shit if you dont like it because they will be remembered for all time unlike most bands today .
sadly a band needs money to tour and as long as band is small and there albums are getting downlaoded for free the chances of longevity will no longer exist
keep downloading for free. Butt stop complaining about them making money . because in fact your saving yours

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: INSANE

Wow. Where to start with this bit of incoherent drivel. First off show me where there are “other people profiting from there music.” Because no one profits from file sharing Metallica’s music.

Secondly, no one is debating where Metallica ranks against other musicians, so this whole section of your rant is extraneous.

Thirdly, Metallica’s stage show is huge because they charge more than most other bands with smaller stage setups, and still make a boatload off touring, so downloading hasn’t hurt that one bit. What’s your point in bringing this up?

Fourthly, what’s a “Butt stop?” And no one is complaining about them making money. Did you even RTFA? Are you a complete moron, or just a partial moron? Can you even put together one complete sentence with proper capitalization, spelling, grammer and punctuation?

I suspect you are either very young or developmentally dissabled.

bentf1 (profile) says:

Napstar did and so does every other file sharing site they charge people for advertising on there site dont they or do they allow people to do that for free . They make there money from that idiot . Are you that stupid .
if you know anything about music and recording you would understand that it costs money to make an album .
metallica doesnt need to worry about that because they have the money to do that. A small band who is just starting out doesnt need people to download there stuff for free as they need capitol to tour or to pay back there label.
so my point is how about file sharing sites allow people to advertise for free.
Maybe you have an issue because you cant bring yourself to pay for music
It does matter were they stand in music because they were not the only ones who sued napstar . Since they are so big there the ones who have been targeted .
People are complaining about them making money thats why its seems ok for people to illegally download there music .

cody says:

Re: Re:

So true. It’s like, just because they make a lot of money, does not mean they don’t have a right to protect their creations. And also, it was more that it was before it was even released, which has other possible adverse effects.

I don’t agree necessarily with suing fans, but the fact remains they had a right to do it, just as much as hollywood for a movie being downloaded. That said, some laws are a bit silly (making a backup copy for self, for example, last I knew is illegal – which is plain old stupid).

Nevertheless, Metallica may have made some mistakes and may have made a crappy album (eg St Anger) but they have made a huge impact of the metal scene, made many incredible albums, put on great shows, and even positively changed many many fans lives (myself included). Let’s not even forget the charities they participate in!

People just want a scapegoat and by pointing fingers and blaming for something that you could blame the fans for even (right or wrong), well that is just ignoring the real issue and not helping anything or anyone. Hell, even back in early days (Ride the Lightning) they were called sell outs.

cody says:

Well...

Right. Obviously they make a huge income on concerts. Big duh if you actually are a fan or have seen the crowd (in states at least: 75 per floor, 50 per seats, not counting what ticketmaster rips you off for – and frankly, that is a good price for the quality of show and even compared to other bands [maybe not all but some]).

I don’t agree with the Napster issue but not one person here has never made a mistake, huge ones at that – Lars’ biggest mistake was that, and he learned from it (there is evidence of this, not only in quotes but attitude). Example: he welcomed a leak for Death Magnetic (a shop in I believe France sold it early and then it got on Internet).

The fact is also they were always pro-bootleg. They still are, and the reason they charge for the show downloads is maintanance (think of bandwidth they use). It’s true they should not have sued fans, but if nothing else I guess they did do a favour to smaller artists and face it – someone would have done it eventually (hell, look at the pirate bay as one example). I for one am happy they provide shows as the venues here are very strict (Plus I don’t have recording equip anyway).

As for St. Anger. Blah. As James said: they needed to make that to get past their troubles. That’s how it goes sometimes. I didn’t really enjoy St. Anger but the tour was still awesome, and then Death Magnetic came …

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