METALLICA's Kirk Hammett: "Piracy Destroyed the Music Industry" But He's Learning To Embrace It
The fine folks at Noisey sat down with the Metallica guitarist that Krik Hammett's Fear FestEvil a few weeks back. (Friendly reminder to check out our massive photo gallery from the fest)
During the convo, a lot of topics were discussed from how he keeps his hair so soft ("Biotin") to the common question about piracy and the new age of social networking. Hammett, no stranger to file-sharing software, was very candid in his responses.
You’re probably tired of answering this, but how have you adapted your views on piracy since the 90s and the Napster lawsuit?
It’s just become too big of a beast to try to control. The best thing to do is to try to put a positive spin on it and embrace it for what it is because it’s still keeping our music alive and out there, and people are still hearing us and listening to us. We’re just learning how to roll with the changes. The whole piracy thing, the whole Internet thing, really destroyed the record industry, and it ended up changing music and the way it even sounds. Now, it just seems like there’s less of a drive to be the best musician you can be or the best band that you can be because you can record anything, and put it out there, and people will say, “Hey, that’s great!” or, “No, that’s sucks,” whatever. It used to be that you had to really work hard to earn the respect selling albums, competing with all the other great bands making great albums—that just doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone just kinda throws an album out there and it kinda just floats around in the cyber-world. What I miss is, there was a time when people would rally behind bands. When an album came out, it was a huge event that everyone spoke about, and you’d go down to the record store and see other people buying it and other people excited, and, “Have you heard this yet!?” “No, I haven’t!”—all that is gone now because of the Internet. The convenience of it is great but it really put a big fuckin’ kibosh on all that shit. Maybe I’m lamenting that a little bit, but it was a great time to be a musician, or a fan, and now because of this culture of convenience we have, it’s just changed differently. Now, I’m glad that we’re an established band but I’d hate to be a band that was just starting out because it’s so much more difficult and the musical audience seems much more divided these days from person to person, whereas back in the day, it was a musical community thing, and now it’s all divided, and separated, and everyone’s just on their own course.
Yeah, it’s a sad thing but we’re just trying to roll with it and do what we can do to still get the Metallica name out there, and still get our music out there, and we’re constantly trying to think of new ways of getting people our music and experiencing our music, and we’ll see what happens when it comes time to release our next album which will probably be in a couple years or so, three or four.
Do you think you’ve embraced social media given everything that’s happened?
Well personally, I don’t give a fuck about social media. I’m not on Facebook, I’m not on Twitter, I’m not on Instagram, I’m not on all these other fuckin’ things that I don’t even know about, and I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care. I. Don’t. Fucking. Care. But there are people in our organization who recognize the power of social media and the power of getting the word out there. Social media can be extremely effective for whatever thing you’re doing or whatever cause so I think it’s important, but personally, I don’t give a fuck.
It seems like he and Lars have similar viewpoints on the whole piracy thing. It's funny that Hammett refuses to embrace social networking, meanwhile James Hetfield rules at Instagram, even though he hasn't posted in a while.
At the same time, how much of an effect has piracy really had on Metallica? Their back catalog routinely sells 5 – 10,000 copies a week, so they can't be hit too hard.