‘This Internet thing runs Amok’ for Metallica

First of all apologies for the long absence – for the last month I’ve been on the road and on holiday.

Full service will now resume, but just to kick things off here’s a couple of quickies…

Metallica have decided to join the digital music (r)evolution, making their entire catalogue available on both iTunes and Napster. Though it’s a tad ridiculous to suggest that the arrival of Metallica’s back catalogue in the digital domain is a momentous development on a par with the Beatles and classic 60’ ‘Stones catalogue (which some observers are doing) it is non the less an important landmark. Metallica – Lars Ulrich in particular – were vociferous opponents of the original Napster, making the controversial move of chasing the individuals who had downloaded their music from the file sharing site. The sight of Ulrich brandishing a box full of 300 000 names of Napster users that had downloaded Metallica tracks, on his way to handing them over to the courts is one of the defining images of the early days of digital music.

What made the action so ironic was that it defined Metallica as establishment when they had built their career as counter-establishment. They just didn’t get the idea that the people downloading their music were fans, they were just a different generation of fans with entirely new consumption habits. Up to that stage Metallica were actually doing a reasonable job of bringing new young fans on board (no mean feat for an aging thrash metal band, though of course their thrash days were already long behind them*). But by taking such passionate action against their own fans did them more harm than recording with an orchestra ever did.

Ulrich was famously quoted with urging the authorities to take action

“before this Internet thing runs amok”.

Nowadays it looks like Metallica are running to keep up.

*For what it’s worth I always thought Metallica went down hill after Dave Mustaine left.