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METALLICA's Kirk Hammett Says Lawsuit Against Napster Didn't Make Any Difference In Piracy

"We didn't make a difference — we did not make a difference."

Metallica Kirk Hammett

In 2000, Metallica started hearing their song "I Disappear" on the radio before it was released on the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack.

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The band discovered the song was leaked onto Napster, which began the very well-publicized lawsuit against the peer-to-peer file sharing service. The lawsuit was eventually settled and that iteration of Napster shut down permanently in 2002. The rights to the name were eventually bought and Napster currently exists as a streaming service.

Looking back a full 20 years later, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett tells Dean Delray on his Let There Be Talk podcast that the lawsuit ultimately did nothing to stop piracy.

"The amazing thing now is back then, people were saying, '20 years from now, we're gonna look back and say, 'Goddamn it! We did the right thing. But when people were saying back then we were actually gonna make a difference? We didn't make a difference — we did not make a difference. It happened. And we couldn't stop it, because it was just bigger than any of us — this trend that happened that fucking sunk the fucking music industry. There was no way that we could stop it. It was a perfectly human thing that just happened. And what had happened was all of a sudden, it was just more convenient to get music and it was less convenient to pay for it. And there you have it.

"For me, it was kind of a leveling factor. All of a sudden, all of us were brought back to the minstrel age now where musicians' only source of income is actually playing. And it's like that nowadays — except that a lot of these bands [chuckles] aren't really playing; they're pressing 'play' or something. But there are a lot of bands who actually fucking play their instruments and have to play to still be a band and still fucking survive. And that's cool, because it really separates who wants to do this and who is just here for the fucking pose. … You'll see who's passionate about it and who's really into it for the art of it, and then you'll see who's not so passionate about it and into the commerce of it.

"Maybe things might change. Maybe all of a sudden people will just start to prefer CDs or whatever format as to what's available now. Who's to say? I mean, it changed all so quickly back then; it could fucking change just as quickly now."

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Convenience seems to be the key word in a lot of this. Now it's convenient to stream music, and it's extremely well known at this point that streaming isn't paying artists as well either. Maybe a shift toward independent music is the key? Or a better split with streaming services and labels? Who knows, but it is extremely evident that the digital age hasn't been kind to musicians (in some regards).

In other news, Metallica will headline five major music festivals throughout 2020 where they'll play two sets each night. The dates are:

  • Epicenter (May 1-3) at its new location at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC [Tickets]
  • Welcome To Rockville (May 8-10) at its new location at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL [Tickets]
  • Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival (May 15-17) at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, OH [Tickets]
  • Louder Than Life (September 18-20) at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center in Louisville, KY [Tickets]
  • Aftershock (October 9-11) at Discovery Park in Sacramento, CA [Tickets]

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