Metallica’s Lars Ulrich: Napster Lawsuit Was About Control Not Money
The digital age has transformed the music industry in the new millennium, giving fans access to thousands of artists and thousands more songs at a whim. The peer-to-peer music service Napster was one of the pioneers in the field, offering fans the ability to download songs for free, which Metallica famously railed against with drummer Lars Ulrich leading the charge. Looking back on this time in an interview with Mojo, he said his biggest problem wasn't the money being lost, but the control.
Reflecting on what happened 16 years ago, Ulrich affirmed he's still "proud of the fact that we stood up for what we believed in at the time," conceding that they could have prepared better for the "s--tstorm that followed" (transcription via Blabbermouth). "We were ignorant as to what we were getting involved in," he continued, "but that's always been the case."
Going on to liken the battle to a "street fight," Ulrich said Metallica saw the file sharing as "somebody to be f--king with us so, f--k it, you fire back." After the shots were fired, the band found plenty of people congratulating them for their efforts behind closed doors. "And then all of a sudden this whole other thing happened and we were in the middle of it, alone. Every day that summer, there was not a musician or peer or somebody inside the music business who wouldn't pat me on the back and go, 'You guys are standing up for the rest of us.' But the minute we were out in public, we were on our own. Everybody was too s--t f--king scared and too much of a p--sy to take a step forward. The only other person that said something in public was Dr. Dre," Ulrich stated.
The public saw this as Metallica fighting over the financial aspect, but Ulrich saw it differently, explaining, "The only annoying thing that still resonates 16 years later is that the other side were really smart: they made it about money. But it was never about money. Never. It was about control."
Still irked that many feel Metallica were "greedy [and] money-hungry," he countered the notion by explaining, "We were the band who [in 1991] invited bootleggers to come to our shows and tape them. We sold 'taper' tickets and we'd have a section where you could bring in a recorder and tape the show and trade them with your friends. And all of a sudden we're greedy... [sighs] All those years later, that's part of my reputation."
Metallica now have complete control with Hardwired... To Self-Destruct, their forthcoming album, seeing a release on the band's own Blackened Recordings. Fans can still pre-order the album at Metallica's website before it comes out on Nov. 18.
See Where Lars Ulrich Ranks Among the Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Drummers of All Time
10 Unforgettable Lars Ulrich Moments