Enlarge Kirk Hammett by Gage Skidmore, via Wikipedia.

Metallica’s Kirk Hammett on Streaming: “We Warned Everyone This Was Gonna Happen”


To their credit, Metallica have worked very hard to come back from the image they projected by fighting against Napster in the early 2000s. The metal titans’ crusade against the forefather of music-sharing services felt like a slap in the face to the fans they’d constantly encouraged to bootleg and tape-trade their material, and seemed to put their bottom line ahead of new listeners’ ability to obtain music. But since then, Metallica have supported up-and-coming artists while publicly giving tons of money to charity, while the public opinion of music-sharing has shifted dramatically due to the low royalty rates of big streaming services like Spotify. Now, in a new interview, guitarist Kirk Hammett has come out basically saying ‘I told you so’ to the masses.

To be fair, the interviewer, who speaks to Kirk for Classic Rock, kinda feeds right into Kirk’s response with their question:

Classic Rock launched just before Napster came along in 1999, and the music industry started to change. Metallica were one of the big names fighting against peer-to-peer file sharing, which morphed into the streaming model that prevails today. 

We warned everyone that this was gonna happen. We warned everyone that the music industry was gonna lose eighty percent of its net worth, power and influence. When these monumental shifts come you just either fucking rattle the cage and get nothing done or you move forward. 

There’s definitely a new way for getting music out there, but it isn’t as effective as the music industry pre-Napster. But we’re stuck with it. There needs to be some sort of midway point where the two come together, or another completely new model comes in. 

There you go — what goes around comes around, and now that streaming is no longer the technological darling it once seemed to be, Metallica were right all along.

MetalSucks’ two cents on this issue, if you give any scrap of a fuck, are:

  • Let’s not act like the music industry was this awesome fucking thing pre-Napster. In the late ’90s, the music industry was bloated, contrived, and didn’t give a shit about music unless it was a financial success. It hunted down trends, oversaturated them, pressured bands to compromise their visions, and then abandoned 90% of their artists when the public’s fickle gaze shifted. Maybe Spotify needs to pay people more, but platforms like YouTube and Bandcamp have helped launch the sustainable careers of countless unorthodox artists who record execs would never have cared about. Let’s not idolize a system that was inherently fucked up and made a lot of shitty people rich.
  • Download music on Bandcamp. Bandcamp has made a concerted effort to support artists, and makes purchasing and downloading music incredibly easy. If Spotify feels hollow to you, do it all through Bandcamp. If streaming on Bandcamp feels hollow to you, use it to buy the music being offered by these artists. You can do it all through digital download, and then buy a shirt if you like it. Hey, look, Kirk Hammett’s rad new solo EP is on there!
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