Monday, December 15, 2014

Bands we love to hate (justified or not): Metallica

This week I'm going to tackle the bands/artists that everyone loves to hate - justified or not.

Let's start with Metallica

Metallica was probably one of the first successful underground bands. They became well known by their underground marketing methods - their music shared by others without the means of mainstream marketing. Copies of cassettes were made and passed around with a wink and a nod. It was everybody's secret.  This is how Metallica literally became a household name among music lovers, especially those who enjoy the metal genre.


 Napster Happened
In 2000, Metallica discovered that a demo of its song "I Disappear", which was supposed to be released in combination with the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack, was receiving radio airplay. Tracing the source of the leak, the band found the file on the Napster peer-to-peer file-sharing network, and also found that the band's entire catalog was freely available. Legal action was initiated against Napster; Metallica filed a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, alleging that Napster violated three areas of the law: copyright infringement, unlawful use of digital audio interface device, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)

Though the lawsuit named the University of Southern California, Yale University, and Indiana University for copyright infringement, no individuals were named. Yale and Indiana complied and blocked the service from its campuses, and Metallica withdrew the universities' inclusion from the lawsuit. USC, however, had a meeting with students to decide how it should deal with Napster. School administrators wanted it banned because its use accounted for 40% of the bandwidth that was not being used for educational purposes.

Metallica hired online consulting firm NetPD to monitor the Napster service for a weekend. A list of 335,435 Napster users who were believed to be sharing Metallica's music was compiled, and the 60,000-page document was delivered to Napster's office. Metallica requested that the users be banned from the service. The users were banned. Rap artist Dr. Dre joined the lawsuit against Napster, resulting in the banning of an additional 230,142 Napster users.

Lars Ulrich provided a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding copyright infringement on July 11, 2000. Federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered the site to place a filter on the program within 72 hours or be shut down. A settlement between Metallica and Napster was reached when German media conglomerate Bertelsmann BMG showed interest in purchasing the rights to Napster for $94 million. Under the terms of settlement, Napster agreed to block users who shared music by artists who do not want their music shared. On June 3, 2002, Napster filed for Chapter 11 protection under U.S. bankruptcy laws. On September 3, 2002, an American bankruptcy judge blocked the sale of Napster to Bertelsmann and forced Napster to liquidate its assets according to Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy laws.

At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Lars Ulrich appeared with host Marlon Wayans in a skit that criticized the idea of using Napster to share music. Marlon played a college student listening to Metallica's "I Disappear". Ulrich walked in and asked for an explanation. Ulrich responded to Wayans' excuse that using Napster was just "sharing" by saying that Wayans' idea of sharing was "borrowing things that were not yours without asking". He called in the Metallica road crew, who proceeded to confiscate all of Wayans' belongings, leaving him almost naked in an empty room. Napster creator Shawn Fanning responded later in the ceremony by presenting an award wearing a Metallica shirt, saying, "I borrowed this shirt from a friend. Maybe, if I like it, I'll buy one of my own."

So basically... Metallica got to where they were by underground sharing, but slapped all of their fans in the face by taking away their ability to share.  Seems a bit ungrateful, doesn't it?

If you must listen: