Lars Ulrich: Underestimated File Sharing.. But Proud We Sued

from the yeah,-ok dept

Jari Winberg points us to a big Billboard story about Metallica that has some quotes by the band about this whole internet thing. You recall, of course, that Metallica became the poster-child for anti-internet activity, when it became the first to sue Napster, back in 2000. Since then, the band has often tried to rehabilitate its online image, and has even done a few creative online things — but still has trouble shaking the anti-fan image it put forth with the lawsuits.

In the interview with Billboard, Lars Ulrich, who was the band member who led the charge against Napster, first talks about “The awesomeness of the Internet” in that you’ve got “the whole world at your fingertips” and how great it would have been for him as a child (until the older version of himself would have sued him for listening to music… but I digress). That leads to the obvious question from Billboard about Napster, where Ulrich notes that he fully expects his obituary to mention Napster in the opening paragraph and then says the following:

“That’s something I have to accept, and I accept it,” he says. “But it’s not something that plays a big part in my life in 2010. I’m proud of the fact that we stood up for what we believed in and took a stance. Were we caught off-guard? Absolutely. Were there some gross underestimation of what this thing was? Yeah. But it came from the same impulsive spirit that drives everything else this band does.”

I keep trying to parse that, but I’m not sure what it’s actually saying. He’s proud that they sued… but it was an underestimation? An underestimation of what? That they’d be able to sue file sharing out of existence? If that’s the case, then why be proud of suing and hurting the band’s reputation?

Earlier this year, we pointed out that Metallica is a band that makes the vast majority of its money from touring — over $20 million, versus about $1.5 million from album sales — and suggested that the band’s attack on Napster seems really short-sighted when you consider that. They were fighting over the scraps — when embracing the fans likely would have resulted in much greater live and merchandise sales. In fact, the band’s manager is asked how the band is dealing with lower album sales, and he notes that it’s no big deal because of all the other revenue sources:

“It won’t change anything else we do,” he says. “I’m trying not to be cocky about it, but for Metallica, at their level, the kinds of things you might think about to replace income are minor compared to what you make playing tours and selling merch. We’re just finishing 225 shows worldwide [in support of “Death Magnetic”], and these are massive shows. We can play anywhere. What else do we need to do, really? If we sell fewer records, so be it. Of course I’d rather sell more, but I can’t do anything about the size of the market, and neither can they.”

Yeah, well, if you hadn’t pissed off all those fans, you could have actually increased the size of the market willing to attend concerts and buy stuff… but… whatever.

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Comments on “Lars Ulrich: Underestimated File Sharing.. But Proud We Sued”

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Mike C. (profile) says:

The way I read it...

To look at it in a somewhat positive light, it almost sounds like he’s saying that they had a belief about Napster and thought that suing them was the correct approach. He seems proud of the fact that despite the negative publicity at the time, they stuck to their beliefs and followed through on their lawsuit. I don’t see it as an endorsement that the action itself was right, more a matter of being proud that they made a plan and stuck to it. He also seems to admit that they now understand their beliefs about Napster were totally wrong.

With that being said, it also makes me realize they just don’t give a crap. They had their minds made up and nothing anyone else could say or do would change them. Talk about closed-minded.

Miles (profile) says:

Re: The way I read it...

“They had their minds made up and nothing anyone else could say or do would change them.”
Bingo. As a once-fan myself, when they refused to listen to us, who purchased their music, supported them up to the Napster change, and decided to crap on us, I had enough and said “Fuck you” right back to them.

If $20 million is all they’re making, I can only take great pride I stood up to this band, refused to buy into their music, to voice my opinion and that it made more a difference than shutting down Napster ever did.

If Lars wants me to return to supporting the band, he needs to stand up against COICA and explain why their lesson is applicable here.

Until then, this band is dead to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Mainly that Napster was one of the few sources, at the time, for digital copies of songs.

It was basically an option that fans wanted, that wasn’t being provided by ANYONE else, and the industry (and Metallica) thought that the best option was to sue and block off any attempts at digital media.

It wasn’t until half a decade later when actual legal services started appearing, which basically summarizes the whole situation.

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re: Re:

At the time Napster was EXPLODING! Fans were getting music that they had no access to other wise. Rare tracks and such. Metallica did just sue napster but also heavily endorsed RIPAA and made poor statements calling their fans thieves simply because they wanted to hear music you couldn’t buy anywhere. I can’t remember where I heard it, I think it was an interview on MTV back when they still played music, Lars stated that “If you want to hear the rare tracks you need to come to all of our shows.” Mid you most of the rare tracts were in Europe and Australia during a time when they were touring abroad. Lars also made the comment much like the Kiss singer did recently of “sue them all to death”
Then, when metallica’s next album came out, it did relatively poorly and Lars again blamed the fans, not the fact it was just a sucky album.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

I’m sorry to repeat myself. I bring this up every time there’s a Metallica story.

Metallica owes is entire success to fans infringing copyright. Back in the early 80s radio did not play their brand of metal and neither did MTV.

Alt bands such as Metallica built fan bases when their fans shared cassettes with friends. Those new fans shared more cassettes… and so on and so on.

Metallica’s first independent album, Kill ‘Em All, reached 120 on the US Billboard chart. Without any radio, television, mainstream press, or any videos. Heck, it reached number 12 in Finland and 28 in Sweden.

Kill ‘Em All did so incredibly well because fans had been sharing Metallica’s demo tapes since 1981. Before even being signed to an independent label, Metallica were huge in the alt metal movement. All because its fans shared its music.

Which makes Metallica’s attack on Napster users so incredibly ironic.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Metallica owes is entire success to fans infringing copyright.

You know, I was just about to post the very same thing.

I didn’t hear about Metallica from the radio. I heard about it from their denim-jacketed fans that I hung out with in high school. They all had bootleg copies of “Metal Up Your Ass” because it wasn’t available at your local Strawberries.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Irrelevant

Wherever I may roam, I hear this holier than thou attitude from this self-proclaimed god? the god that failed. This action, the unforgiven action of suing accusing your fans of being thieves while crying ?don?t tread on me?? you may have won the struggle within, but you have lost our respect. And after respect is gone, nothing else matters. You have shown the inherent difference of wolf and men? where a man will work with his fans but a wolf will attack them crying for blood. Though you may deny it, it is sad but true. Through the never -ending fight of your conscious, I hope you realize your downfall, my friend of misery.
And Enter Sandman is overplayed and way over-hyped.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Irrelevant

You mean, “Everything after and including that”

Post Justice Metallica just sucks. Enter Sandman was the introduction of teenyboppers into “heavy metal” and Metallica into greed.

From a band that has “allegedly” plagiarized many songs, their stance on theft is rather ironic. More than the obvious stuff that has been documented, I hear a lot of classical guitar riffs that are heard note-for-note in Hammet’s solos.

So what I am trying to say is, fuck Lars.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

why are they proud? well because…

Lars is a complete idiot that has no idea what he is saying before he is about to say it and because of that combined with his stupidity in never being able to admit that he is wrong gets him into these types of situations

Hetfield is a recovering addict who was at the height of his substance abuse at the time all this came out.

Hammett is fairly unexceptional in his talent and while not exactly an idiot, he is a complete whimp that pretty much allows the other two to to push him to the back all the time (ask mustaine about what kinda whimp he is)

the only person with any kind of sense was newstead who got tired of it all and quit. (have not heard much from him but id be interested to thats for sure)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They completely failed to realize that their image, like a lot of rock-types, is one of rebellion, of calling out uncomfortable truths, of the id, of pissing on hypocrisy.

There they sat in front of congress showing themselves to be completely self-centered corporate shills. Liars. Fakes. Traitors to their army of fans who put them where they were, gave them what they had.

Never screw the fans. They’re the ones with the money.

sivad (profile) says:

I have to admit that I never really understood the backlash against Metalica over this. Back in 2000 Filesharing was nothing like it is today? YOu have to look at it from the side of the artist. It takes alot of money to create these albums. And let’s face it, these guys aren’t in it for there health. There in it to make a living at what they love. What would you think if you spent thousands of dollars creating something only to have someone turn around, reproduce it, and give it away to anybody that askes?

If you were a house builder that built a house, and then someone walked in and moved there family in without buying the house. Would you just look at yourself and say “well at least someone is living in a house we built”? No you wouldn’t, you’d go to the court and have them kicked out of the house so you could sell it.

I agree that the music industry was very short sighted in there ideas of file sharing. They didn’t understand it and had no idea on how to market something like that. But then again, back in 2000 apple didn’t even understand how to market stuff like this.

Dishevel says:

Re: Re: Re:

How about this then. At the time they knew very little about digital file sharing. It was new and different and they did not fully understand it. People when faced with these situations usually react with fear. Fear of things they do not understand. So they attacked what they saw as a threat. Whether or not it was an actual threat is not important in understanding their reaction. What I find impressive is that when they were proved wrong over time they evolved. Most people when they see themselves as the point of a particular idea have a hard time changing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

its more like no one wanted to pay to look at the house, moving into the house would be going to the concerts.

and the backlash against them was because the platform they used to make it big, was no longer profitable for them. So since the platform advanced to the point that they saw a minor drop in income they decided to sue. I’m not talking a drop in income to the point of saying they had to choose to live in a 5 bedroom McMansion as opposed to a 6 bedroom villa, I’m talking I only have 6 cars for the week instead of a car for every day of the week.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well I think the distribution pipe is having competition I wouldn’t try to stop them I would have worked hard to make my goods better then the other guys.

You see the original band have all the cards, it can create new material, it can create new objects and most importantly it controls their own feet meaning they have their shows which is where the f’ing money really is for bands, the distribution of music in radios was free, the distribution by fans was free only the selling of CD’s was paid but that fail when MP3 players displaced CD’s.

SMF says:

Re: Re:

Well if you want to compare it to building houses, we can do that. If you go to buy a house you get to inspect it from top to botton before you spend 1 cent on it, what Napster was to most people I know was exactly that. We listened to the music so we knew what we were getting and if it was good we bought the CD. After people bought the Load (of crap) album, everyone I know wanted to hear anything these guys did before they were gonna spend money on it. As for the house thing, if you are mislead into buying a house and find out it’s garbage and built bad, you can sue, can we sue Metallica for selling us horrible CDs? Nope we can’t so it’s not quite the same is it? That’s the point most people have and have been trying to get accross and that alot of bands have already found out, you see more and more bands (including Metallica now) previewing thier CDs online so we can hear it before we buy it, if they are confident in thier work what have they got to lose? If people like it they’ll buy it, the more people that hear it and like it the more sales they make and more money they make.(something Metalica obviously learned too seeing they had death magnetic online to preview before it was released)

Daryl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re analogies are so wrong on every way possible that it is silly to explain why, but i will anyway.

First of all, you cannot compare viewing a house before you buy it, to downloading a song off napster. The majority of people who download music for free are not doing it to “try before you buy”, that is their avenue for getting free music. Yes, some people will actually still buy thet physical CD, but Napster and Limewire are not legitimate ways to download music for free, thats just a excuse for you to get it for free without getting caught.

Also there is no such thing as being mislead into buying a house that turns out to be garbage. That is the whole point of open houses, and to schedule a appt to view the house, so you can do your research on it and make sure its good, same way with a car.

And i’m not even going to debunk you on the “suing metallica for making horrible cd’s” cause thats absurd and you know it.

sivad says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I never said a word about suing Metalica. This conversation started by me say that I didn’t understand the backlash towards metalica over suing.

The analogy of the house was a simple one/. I was simply saying that both the house and and a song are a product. Intended to create revenue, not only for Metalica but for there record comany. You could substitue any product in my analogy. A car, software, a DVD.

And as far as being mislead, I have no idea what that even has to do with anything. Are you saying that someone is mislead if they buy an album and don’t like the whole thing when they get it home? I don’t even understand how that would work.

In your own words. The people are going to napster and limewire to get free music without getting caught. My question would be, who are you or anyone else to demand that the music you hear should be free.

I’ve agreed with everyone about the fact that Metalica was shortsighted in sueing over this. But back in 2000 things were a bit different in the record industry. So who is anyone to condem these people for standing up and trying to protect what they see as there rights?

sherpalou (profile) says:

Pay for work

Like most people in the world today, and probably for most of history, I get paid for my work. However, I do not get paid over and over for the work I did in the past. Only in the realm of copyright and patents is it different. Many of us are legitimately questioning why this should be so. The original terms for copyright still seem reasonable to me. Virtually eternal copyrights do not.

sivad (profile) says:

I would also say that I think the reason their CD sales are down has more to do with the fact that what they come out with today isn’t qyuite as interesting to there fans as previous CDs. I’m not really sure that people avoid Metalica CDs because of there stance on filesharing 10 years ago. If that were the case, why would the still be packing huge venues the way they do?

keith (profile) says:

Talk about not understanding your audience … or just truly not caring. I guess if they are still pulling in 20mill+ a year from touring, it isn’t like they were ‘punished’ at all. As stated, what does he care if they sell 10 albums or 10 million in the store – that doesn’t really hurt the band.

I also stopped listening to them for a long time as a boycott — but then decided that was counter productive because I really liked some of their songs — S&M album in particular. Why deny myself that joy?

I still refuse to see them in concert or give them a dime of my money because they acted very stupidly and hypocritically (see Ima Fish comment above).

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here’s where I’ll point out that most musicians do not get their money from CD sales. According to many musicians who broke away with the traditional contracts (which were very much the norm back in 2000), the labels got the majority of the money out of those.

And all the money the labels milked out of the Napster fiasco? How much of that do you really think made it into a ‘protected’ artist’s pocket? I’d be surprised if they say more than a token pittance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They get paid for CDs they cell don’t they? Ford gets paid for every car they make. Why should music be different?

That’s true. When Ford sells a car they get paid, and then they have to sell another car.

The problem we have with the entitlement attitude in the music industry has nothing to do with getting paid for selling CD’s, but that they feel they should get paid over and over for simply creating a song.

sivad (profile) says:

I used to listen to Metalica back in the 80’s. You’re correct that radio didn’t play them until a few years into there stint. But that was because, at the time, radio didn’t know what to do with them. It wasn’t mainstream at the time. And the truth is that radio didn’t really start playing them until they shifted gears a bit musically. Were they mainly an underground band that relied on there fans to get the word out? Sure they were. That’s very much how heavy metal worked at the time. Heavy metal didn’t really start to get any props until MTV started to pick up heavier artists. Artist such as Metalica.

And btw, had Metalica not made any sales, they wouldn’t be with us today.

AR (profile) says:

a sliver of remorse?

“That’s something I have to accept, and I accept it,” he says. “But it’s not something that plays a big part in my life in 2010. I’m proud of the fact that we stood up for what we believed in and took a stance.”

I may be going out on a limb here, but it seems as thought hes kinda/sorta admitting that it may not have been the brightest idea. but hes proud that they all made a decision and stuck to it. As misguided as it may have been.

“Were we caught off-guard? Absolutely. Were there some gross underestimation of what this thing was? Yeah. But it came from the same impulsive spirit that drives everything else this band does.”

He seems to be saying that they had no clue how big file sharing would become, that this is what the fans would want, the direction that technology was going, and how much their lawsuit would draw a lot more attention to the fact that music could be downloaded. Which, by the way, actually was a big contributor to the growth of file sharing.

In the last sentence he tries to justify their knee-jerk reaction to something that they didnt understand (and didnt try) by saying that its just the way they are.

Its a shame that instead of trying to figure out how to use it to their advantage, they just listened to the labels that only told them how much money they were going to lose on record sales. Not realizing how many fans (and how much money) they would lose in the process. Since money is their main concern, as opposed to making music as they claim, then they should have looked at the bigger picture and realized that there was more money to be had if they would have just given the fans what they wanted.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But back in 2000, who in the music industry really understood where this could go.

Nobody had seen anything like it before
…are you seriously that ignorant? no… you must be trolling.

and nobody had any real vision on what to do until Apple came up with Itunes.
you can’t be more wrong.

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Thats what market research is all about. I can think of a few people who had the foresight and vision to see the possibilities of file shareing back then. The problem was they didnt work for the labels. They were the ones who started Napster, Limewire, and the others (dont need to name them all). maybe instead of trying to sue them out of existence they should have looked into buying them up, or working with them, as a way to distribute music. Heck, I saw that back then and Im not in the industry. Its not rocket science.

sivad (profile) says:

I realize this. I also realize that most tours throughout history, don’t make money. But there would be no way that Metalica would be what they are without selling albums. Without the push that MTV gave them. They went from opening up tours for Ozzy Osbourne and playing club gigs, to selling out huge venues around the world. Maybe they would be in buisness and playing music but they wouldn’t be the icons people see today without record sales. For god sakes, Metalica and bands like them are the reason you here heavy metal on the radio today. Before them, it was pretty slim pickings, even though there was a very large fanbase.

sivad (profile) says:

I suppose. strange though that I was actually there. I was a fan before metalica started headlining shows. They were very differnt at the time. The Metalica from Kill em all was nothing like what you hear today. Were there heavy metal artist out there that where making music. Sure there were. Alot of them. But you didn’t hear that on the radio in the 80’s. Not until after bands like Metalica came on board. Was it because they were so different than the rest of them, not really. But they did get noticed. And once that happened there was huge amount of record companies looking for bands like them.

sivad (profile) says:

Wether you like Lars or not has nothing to do with anything. This is about who owns the rights to music that someone creates. I believe the artist has the rights and owns the music. bands do this to make money. At the time that Metalica was fighting napster nobody in the music industy had any idea what to do with file sharing.

Like I said if you built a house, would you just let someone move in? No you wou7ldn’t. Even if the house looked just like the house next door. YOu would still expect to be paid by the person who moved in.

sivad (profile) says:

So just because it seems to not cost much, to you. It should be free?

Even if it costs a penny a song to reproduce, that becomes a pretty high number multipied by hundreds of thousands.

And as for napster, limewire, and all the rest. I agree they saw the inovation in what hey were doing. Did it change the face of music today? Yes it did. But the reason record companies didn’t fall into line with them is because there was no profit shown in what they had to offer. That didn’t until apple proved that even with file sharing profit could be made.

Like it or not, the music buisness is call a buisness because it is one. It’s there to make money. And if it’s not obvious that money can be made, they won’t be going there.

The house is no different than a song. It’s all a product created to generate income.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And if it’s not obvious that money can be made, they won’t be going there.

That is the choice of those business persons, and should be a calculated one at that. There was no MTV before MTV, so how could they know there was money to be made?? They tried it out, saw it worked, and now they don’t even play music videos anymore. Avoiding a market because you can’t see it’s potential is a choice, and a poor one at that.

The house is no different than a song. It’s all a product created to generate income.

They are both a product created to generate income, yes, but they are still QUITE different. For instance, two people can’t own the house at the same time, but you can have millions of copies of that song out there being enjoyed simultaneously. One is a physical product, the other is really nothing more than air waves moving at specific frequencies….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Lets say you paid $400,000 for the house to the builder. Should everyone who moves into the house with you (i.e; your son, daughter, wife, husband, mother, father, brother, sister, or friend)have to pay the builder $400,000 for each person that moves into the house with you? I would attempt to force the example to relate further, but if you wanted the to use the house at home and have it on a device at work sounds wierd and doesn’t fit the relation of what should be able to be done with music.

If I buy a song, I understand that I shouldn’t necessarily be able to duplicate it and give it away, however I should be able to duplicate it for my personal use (my mp3 player for my work out, my cd player at home and my cd player in the car) for convenience. Otherwise the benefit to the product is gone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Iinteresting that I agreed with that statement several times in my comments. So NO you shouldn’t have to pay to be in the house. Just as you shopuldn’t have to pay to listen to a CD at someone elses house.

That of course is not what Napster did. They allowed a venue for easy access to copies of material, that the people who posted it did not have a right to distribute.

Overcast (profile) says:

Like it or not, the music buisness is call a buisness because it is one. It’s there to make money. And if it’s not obvious that money can be made, they won’t be going there.

The house is no different than a song. It’s all a product created to generate income.

Why has music been provided for ‘free’ then over radio since the early 1900’s?

Why didn’t that kill their market?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Broadcast TV and radio are not free. Broadcasters pay rights holders for broadcast rights. In return, a viewer gets to watch/listen as long as they are prepared (certainly in the case of TV) to watch/listen to the incessant droning of ads regarding incontinence, flaccidity, heartburn, etc., etc. These ads make me long for the days when ads involved products that are no longer tolerated in our “nanny” society.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But I don’t pay for it, how is that not free? If they’ve figured out how to give away music to me for free and make money elsewhere why are they the exception? No one here is saying you can’t make money with music, they are saying the old way of doing it (i.e. selling plastic discs) doesn’t work anymore.

And yes, if I don’t pay for it it is free.

sivad (profile) says:

The reality is that the internet has forced recod companies to change. this hasn’t been easy for them. Do they have to find different buisness models to work with? HELL YES!

But I’m sorry back in 2000, people didn’t see how that would play out. Napster wasn’t looking at trying to change a business model. They were looking for a way to exchange music quickly and cheaply over th internet.

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Napster wasn’t looking at trying to change a business model. They were looking for a way to exchange music quickly and cheaply over th internet.

Napster was also trying to develop a following so as to sell ad space to make money at it. Similar to the way radio works. thats why the music industry went after them. there were (and are) quite a few things they can do to use the same philosophy to modify there own businesses. But they dont want to eat into their short term profits to ensure long term solvency.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You’re right Napster was wrong, however instead of saying “hey, you’ve developed an innovative new platform for distribution. Work with us on making this work for everyone.” they just sued the kid. They were not playing business, in business you don’t outright attack something new, you observe it and determine if it can be of use to you or not in any way. Then you deal with it carefully.

They could have worked with Napster to provide a legal platform, that gave the cd production a cruch or two to hobble on for a short term while the world adapted and then attacked the limewires and kazaa’s to make the statements of piracy would not be tolerated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I have a purchased music CD in my computer’s drive right now.

I just made a copy of a track.

It was free.

I have just gone to a band’s website where they are offering a download of their song at no cost to fans.

I just downloaded a copy into my computer.

It was free.

Anyone can go to any number of internet sites and find a song they want and download a copy for free.

It is the distribution system, formerly a physical project, that is forever changed. Digital files are now a disposable commodity.

Time for labels to change the record.

sivad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And the fact that it is free for you to burn a CD does not give you the right to put it on the internet and give it to anyone who askes. That’s what napster did. And with good reason the record companies had issue with that.

And if you haven’t noticed the record companies have changed. In no small part to issues like this.

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The beatles have been on the net, available for download, for 10 years. How bad do you think this would affect sales now that they are sold legally via iTunes?

Here is what has sold in the first week.
“Apple sells 450K Beatles albums, 2M songs so far”

That is almost 45 albums a second all week and just under 200 songs per second each and every second of the week.

What was the good reason the labels took issue with?

sivad (profile) says:

I saw it coming to. But seeing it coming and having a real buisness model, that makes a profit are two very different things. And until the music business saw a profitable business model, they were reluctant to change. They didn’t start change until it was shown to them that it had to happen.

Was that short sightedness? I think so. But that’s not what this article or my comment was about. It’s about Metalica and Lars saying that he’s proud of his actions.

If someone came to me and said I might lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. I might be reluctant to be the first to take the step myself.

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re:

two things
1 After you read a response to want to respond to. If you click the “reply to this” link instead of just going to the bottom boxes it would be a lot easier to follow what you have to say. Im just trying to help.

2 Your the one who took it in this direction trying to defend him. dont get me wrong I wasnt criticizing him either. I was just giving my interpretation of what I read out of his statement. I am one of their fans that they lost when they started all of this.

Dave says:


I don’t read too much into his statement. He sounds sincere to me, and I read it like this:

We accept that we pissed off loads of people, we can’t take it back, after all.

We didn’t really understand the significance or the consequences of trying to crack down like that. We also didn’t know all we needed to know to make a good or different decision.

Even though we got pilloried, we feel good that we stood up for our principles.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:


1) Please use the [reply to this] buttons on posts to respond to them… I’ve given up trying to link your counter-points back to what you’re countering.

2) Please back up your statement that “…most tours throughout history, don’t make money.” Touring and merchandising is where bands make the money, not from record sales. It has been noted all over the place since 2000 that a) bands get a sliver of a portion of sales from each CD and b) none of the award money from these ‘protection actions’ has actually made it back to the artist.

So let’s recap: copyright infringement is illegal, but is not theft. And producing and marketing intellectual property IS NOT THE SAME as building and selling a house or car. Please stop trying that analogy.

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Thats why I said a sliver of remorse. Personally I think it and a lot of the comments the band was making back then about the people (fans) that were downloading, or copying from their own purchased cds, wasnt in their best interest. because of this I made the decision that I would never buy anything af theirs again. No big deal. One fan lost wont hurt them . right?

sivad (profile) says:

maybe so but many people can own the same house, just at a different address. I can have a house that looks just like yours if i want. And just because it’s easier or cheaper to create copies of somethings and not others doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take money to make it happen. It also doesn’t mean that the people making it happen shouldn’t be able to make a profit.

There are plenty of business models that are passed over because there isn’t a profit seen. Does that mean the model is worng, not really, it could just mean the bean counters aren’t looking in the right place for the profit. Tha is exactly what happened in the music business. When the were forced to expore other options they did.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Metallica

ATTENTION SIVAD: Please use the “reply to this” link.

At the very least, quote the person you are replying to. Nobody can tell what point you’re trying to make otherwise.

Now, then.

1. Your house analogy falls down, because if someone moves into that house, it means that other people can’t move in themselves. In other words, you are depriving others of something. That’s not true when you make an unlicensed copy.

2. Infringement is not theft. Not under the law, and not under common sense. Making your own copy is not “stealing.”

3. It costs money to make copies; that’s true. In the case of infringement, none of those costs are borne by the rights holders. Metallica doesn’t have to pay me every time I make an MP3 of their CD. My copy costs them nothing.

4. It also costs money to record that album. Those costs should be recouped. Nobody here is arguing against that. But how they recoup that depends on their business model. When that content can be copied and distributed at no cost to the record company, and such copies are impossible to prevent, then selling copies is a bad business model. Advocating it means that you’re telling people not to make money.

5. In case you don’t know, most bands on a major label (and most on indie labels) will never make any money whatsoever from artists’ royalties. That’s because the artists’ royalties pay for all the recording costs, most of the promotional costs, and (often) some of the tour support costs. According to major labels themselves, the “failure rate” is 90%. So: if you’re not making money touring, you’re not making money, period.

6. There’s no evidence that piracy is the cause of the drop in CD sales. During the Napster era, CD sales increased. It’s only in the past 5 years or so that they’ve declined. This is probably due to a number of non-piracy-related factors: the fact that the CD is a dead format; the fact that nobody is “re-buying” their old LP’s in CD format; increased competition from DVD’s, video games, etc; and the bad economy.

7. Even given all the factors in #6, consumer spending on music has increased. They’re just spending money on stuff other than CD’s.

Now, none of those factors would be apparent to a musician in a heavy metal band in 2000. But they damn well should have been apparent to the businessmen who ran the labels. Not only were they clueless then, but they’re still clueless now.

And even disregarding all of the above, one thing should be apparent to any artist: Those people who share your music are your fan base. It’s a bad idea to piss off your fan base. It’s especially bad to do it for the sole purpose of getting their money. That’s just common sense.

If you want the mind-numbing details, I wrote a post on my website called Why Musicians and Labels Should Embrace Filesharing. It should answer most of your questions, I hope.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“many people can own the same house, just at a different address.”

That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time, and I read some pretty dumb things yesterday… The same ‘design’ of a house, sure, but it’s not the same house. It is made from different wood, different screws, different granite counter tops, etc. It is absolutely NOT “the same house”, no matter how you look at it.

sivad (profile) says:

I’m sorry you don’t get the analogy. In my eyes property is property. Or better put a product is a product.

And I heard about Metalica the exact same way. From the headbangers I was around. Not from the radio. Just because they started there by word of mouth through fans (most bands do start this way) doesn’t mean that they have to roll over and take a loss because there fans want it that way.

And Disheval, that’s been my point the whole time. My origanal question was, why should the get beat up for trying to protect proprerty that they clearly have rights to. Right descision or wrong.

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I’m sorry you don’t get the analogy. In my eyes property is property. Or better put a product is a product”

people understand you ,they just disagree with you.
physical property (house) and intellectual property (music) in digital form are different. if you buy a house its yours. You can repaint, remodel ,resell, even duplicate it(on another lot). With music the artists, and the labels, say that you can do none of that. If you buy a cd you can only play it when where and how they dictate. Anything other than that they will take your physical property (i.e. house). So even they believe that there is a differance.

sivad (profile) says:

To anyone who hasn’t been paying attention. I do agree that the record companies need to change there model. That actually is happening to an extent.

Do I believe you should be able to copy your CDs. Hell yes I do.

I don’t believe that if you do make a copy you should have the right to put it out on the internet for everybody to have. Is doing so stealing. maybe that’s the wrong word to use. But the fact is that in 2000 people didn’t look at this in the same light as today. Business models change over time. That’s the nature of any buisness.

The idea that record companies don’t make money on the songs they produce may be a somewhat real arguement. But the fact that they go to pay for the recording of these songs does mean that there is a possible loss to the recording companies, when people give these things out freely. For the songs to be recorded the money has to come from somewhere.

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“But the fact is that in 2000 people didn’t look at this in the same light as today”

The labels did. Back in the 70’s (I think) they went after people for recording on cassette from other cassettes, records, and radio. thats how personal use first came about I believe. The DMCA (at the behest of the labels) changed that. in 2000 the labels were familiar with alternative formats. Instead of adapting to it, like they did with cassette (and arguably CD), they decided to fight it. What started this whole thing with metallica is that the labels used them to fight napster for them this time. Be it because copyright ownership or not Im not sure but metallica are the ones who pursued it (being pushed by the labels), thus taking the fallout for the labels. I could be mistaken on some of the details but the overall chronology should be accurate.

Tim says:

We are still talking about this a decade later?

I can’t believe people still bring this up over a decade after it happened. The author of this article completely missed the point of what Lars was proud of. Lars understood that they handled the Napster issue poorly, but he was proud of the fact that they stood up for what they believed in in spite of everyone being against them. And you don’t know what he underestimated? He just said what was underestimated! The backlash Metallica experienced with the suing of Napster. They obviously didn’t realize how passionate people were about everything being a free for all on the internet in 2000. Didn’t anyone see Napster in 2000 and ask the question, “how can they get away with this?” That was the first thing I asked…it was obvious that the ability to share purchased music for free across the globe was illegal. This wasn’t asking your buddy, “hey man, can you get me a copy of that CD?” This was, “hey world, here’s all my albums for free, come and get it!” And people were shocked that the artists didn’t like this? What?

Furthermore, the central argument Lars had wasn’t even about the money, it was about the fact that Napster came along, put their music out there for anyone to grab, and didn’t ask permission to do so. Metallica are notorious control freaks. In 1993, they sued their record company over the rights to own their own music. This was to prevent Elektra records from selling “Sad But True” or any Metallica song to someone like Chevy for a commercial. If Chevy want to use a Metallica song in a commercial, they’d have to ask Metallica themselves. Now here’s Napster, taking distribution of Metallica’s music out of their hands apologetically. Given Metallica’s history, it really came as no surprise to me when they went after Napster. I wasn’t happy about it because I knew nobody would understand it, but how can you argue that what Napster was doing was fair and just?

If I decide to write a book, I’d like to be the one to decide how that book gets distributed. Do I want to sell it? Or maybe I’ll offer it up as a free download? Up to me really, after all, I’m the author. Now suppose someone comes along, yanks the book I just wrote out of my hands and says, “thanks for writing this book, we’ll now be giving it to the world for free without your consent.” I’d be pissed!

A friend of mine tried to argue that “music is art, and all art should be free.” Absurd. The distribution method of art should be up to the artist to decide, period.

Franky0007 (profile) says:

We are still talking about this a decade later?

Of any type of music, no other than a metal or hard rock band could have been more wrong to go after Napster. It does not matter the reason, that’s just pity pretext. I grew up when hard rock, metal and all that stuff was coming out and none of those bands would have made it if it was not for people making copies of their vinyls for friends. That is how it became a popular style with very little advertising or anything. Underground distribution was the key and those bands did not put any money into it, but got big money out of it. To me it is like Metallica insulted it self by not even understanding the very reason they could be so successful. They did not start the music style, made their variations, and just ripped the profit from those who did start and of any band, they were the last one who should have gone after Napster. That’s great deal on their shoulders for ever. As for free distributing a demo, it’s lame to keep using this as pretext when all this did was create more publicity.
What all these artists and music records also fail at mentioning is the fact that us, from the vinyl days, many of us have purchased new copies on DVD of music we already paid rights on before. No discount, nothing offered ever. I will never cry for the music industry as they get paid any time they get played on TV or radio or any public place. This is free advertisement in billions of $ value. In fact it’s more like they get paid for advertising their product.

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