Reputation Is A Scarce Good... As Metallica Is Learning

from the oops dept

On Thursday, we wrote about Metallica's latest foray online, where it's attempting to build a community around its latest music. Given Metallica's history of attacking Napster all the way back in 2000, we expected there to be some pushback, but what was really stunning was how many of the comments were from people (many of whom had been big fans of the band) still pissed off about Metallica's actions, and refusing to have anything to do with the band. We weren't the only ones to notice. Wired had a story on Metallica's efforts and discovered exactly the same thing. The vast majority of the comments were vehemently negative. Clearly, Metallica really tarnished its reputation by its actions eight years ago, and it's still paying for it.

This brings up a good point, that we've mentioned in the past in the comments, but not so clearly in a post. A person, organization, band or company's reputation is an important "scarce" good -- and once damaged, it's quite difficult (though not impossible) to rebuild the shattered goodwill. When talking about what would happen in a world without copyright, for example, people often say "but in a world without copyright, couldn't someone just copy your own creation and pretend they were their own." The answer is yes, but they do so at the risk to their own reputation. If the news comes out that the person/organization/band/whatever was taking others' works and not giving credit where it was due, that would harm their reputation. And, as Metallica is learning, a tainted reputation can have serious long-term impact.

Filed Under: metallica, reputation, scarce goods

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  1. identicon
    linlu, 30 May 2008 @ 8:40am

    Wasn't there a recent South Park episode?

    I thought I recently saw a South Park episode about how poor Lars of Metallica could not put in his gold plated bar next to his huge pool at his mansion. It was a riot where it had several artists profiled who may have said that downloading music hurt them. In this episode it showed these selected artists and how free downloads made them poor - as in that they couldn't afford obscene luxuries.

    Personally I buy all my music, I know I am a dinosaur. Still I won't buy a Metallica CD nor support them in any way, since I thought they were being shills for the record labels.

    Most artists don't get much if anything at all out of a record deal/royalties. They only really earn their money via concerts and as you mentioned merchandise. I have local musician friends who confirm this.

    So when I hear the RIAA say it hurts the musicians - that's really a load of crap. It only hurts the record industry - lawyers, overpaid gatekeeping record execs, and those that work at the labels. In my estimation, they are nothing but leeches, who profit off the creativity and work of the musicians.

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