More than 20 years ago, Lars Ulrich was one of the biggest opponents of the music sharing platform “Napster”. Now he’s just happy that someone is still interested in Metallica, even if fans get the music illegally. The drummer says this in an interview with the “Smartless” podcast, hosted by actors Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett.
“Well, obviously the situation has changed quite a bit,” Ulrich tells the actors. “And some of the same things that we were dealing with 20 years ago are happening in your industry. Overall, and I know this sounds a bit like a cop-out, I’m just glad that someone fucking cares about what we do and shows up to see us play and still streams or buys our records or steals them or whatever.”
In 2000, Metallica took legal action against illegal music downloading. In the lawsuit, the heavy metal band sued the platform “Napster” and fans who used it to exchange MP3 files of songs. Lars Ulrich was a vocal opponent of this forum and convinced of the infamous “Metallica v. Napster, Inc.” lawsuit. In 2016, the drummer still said he was proud that they “stood up for what we believed in.” Nevertheless, in his opinion, they should have prepared better for the fans’ reactions, because millions of Metallica fans were angry about the band’s actions, who ultimately came from the underground with their thrash metal.
A lot has changed in the industry since this process. Streaming services are now the preferred form of music consumption. This development was probably also the reason for Ulrich’s change of mind. “I think the commitment itself is the triumph and the victory,” he sums up in the podcast.
The drummer also acknowledges that Metallica’s global success is exceptional and not in comparison to smaller groups. “Obviously it’s much, much harder for a lot of younger bands these days because they don’t get the support from record companies for basic things – like equipment and touring support. So it’s a completely different thing,” explains the experienced musician.
When it comes to record sales and creating a following, the 59-year-old offers the following tip to newcomers: “Talent and good songwriting will eventually find a home with a larger group of people. And whether you do it from your bedroom or through a record label or whatever, I believe that everyone will be heard at some point if they’re talented. But it’s hard. A lot of the younger bands are having a hard time, and a lot of the bands that could make a living playing in clubs or theaters 20 years ago are having a harder time now because they don’t sell as many records, and you really have to be out there and push make.”
Metallica are currently traveling through North America on their “M72 World Tour”. They will play their last shows of the year in Detroit on November 10th and 12th. The heavy metal band will be coming to Europe next year. They will give two concerts in Munich on May 24th and 26th, 2024.