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
    John Wilson, 31 May 2008 @ 9:20am


    What really gets to me about comments like this is that you, and people like you, come across with a massive sense of entitlement.

    Kinda like Billy Bragg whining about getting paid and paid a lot like any of the numberless capitalists he keeps attacking with his music. (Bragg, bless him, is somewhere to the left of Karl Marx.)

    No, art is not a commodity. We're not talking art here. We're talking peformance. A recorded song is a performance. One very unlikely to ever be repeated live or anywhere else due to retakes, dubs, overdubs, sweetening, filtering and on and on and on.

    Like it or not performance is, and always has been, a commodity.

    Now, unless you're a band that is good enough and dedicated enough to record in a single take, say The Who, Led Zeppelin on their better days, Jethro Tull any time and so on, you're wanting me to pay for a studio recording which is, in fact, a promotional piece for a musician so that people will come to a concert where the musician(s) actually get paid, sell bling and other things that they'll make money on over and above their recording contract where they're lucky to make a dime.

    Oh well.

    As for social obligations "artists" have a higher calling on that than any of the rest of us? To get paid for our labour?

    And no,its not the beginning of the end for society or much else. It's a massive shift in how the buisness end of music is done and promoted. Much the same as when recordings became a viable form of mass entertainment.



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