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
    Ima Fish, 30 May 2008 @ 9:41am

    The irony here is that Metallica owes its entire career on copyright infringement. There were no radio stations playing their brand of metal back in the 80s. MTV didn't play it either. The only wide exposure the band received were hardcore fans copying and sharing their demo tapes. One guy would give five tapes to five friends, those five would give out give five more each, those twenty five would give out give each, etc.

    Pretty soon they had a huge fan base. Large enough that their initial independent releases made the billboard charts. Which is shocking considering the complete lack of radio or video support!

    That huge fan base then got the band a major label deal with Elektra Records. And the rest, as they say, is history. History, until they turned and spit on their fans by suing them. Good work there ungrateful idiots.

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