We've been on about a new Metallica album for I can't even remember how long. We've definitely posted more non-album related Metallica news than album-related Metallica news though, and every time we do people get mad that it isn't about new music.
So where the hell is this new record and why is it taking so long? According to an analysis done by Metal Hammer, Metallica really doesn't have to make a new record at all to stay comfortably afloat for the rest of its members' lives. First, lets take a look at why the band's records and streaming services hasn't really done it all too much by way of financial favors over the years.
Metallica’s last two albums, St Anger and Death Magnetic, have sold just over 10m copies globally. Even if they recoup all the studio, marketing, manufacturing and distribution costs, it’s unlikely they clear more than a few dollars per copy. It’s still a lot better than cleaning windows, but a far cry from the 16m sales in the US alone of The Black Album. And spare a thought (and a dime) for Kiss whose last two albums, Monster and Sonic Boom, haven’t even passed 1m global sales between them.
At this point you might presume that streaming is the new future for these acts. The diametric opposite is the reality. Those two aforementioned Kiss albums have, between them, clocked up 10m plays on Spotify. Based on Spotify’s average payment of $0.007 per stream, that works out at a grand total of $70,000 in royalties between all the members (not including the label cut, the publisher’s share, management’s 20%, tax and so on).
Metallica have fared somewhat better on streaming services (and they are rumoured to have got equity in Spotify for licensing their music to the service in 2012). Their two most recent albums have, between them, have had just over 45m track plays. Before deductions, that's $315,000. After James Hetfield buys new singlets and guitar strings and Lars Ulrich invests in some new headbands and cymbals, there is not much left over.
It's still a good amount of money, but it's not a reliable source of income for a band to live day-to-day off of and not have to worry about the next paycheck. Now let's look at te gargantuan amount the band makes off one tour.
Compare that to their Death Magnetic tour which grossed $217m and it becomes apparent which side their metal bread is buttered on. The Rolling Stones have put out two new songs, Doom & Gloom and One More Shot, since 2005 and only then as a way to push sales of the GRRR! compilation. Since the turn of the millennium they have, however, toured five times, playing a total of 338 shows and grossing just shy of $1.3bn. That works out at $3.8m a show. No album is going to make them anywhere near that sort of money.
It's just as we've all suspected and even knew all along- Metallica doesn't have to make a new album. Metallica doesn't have to record a single riff more for the rest of its career because the bottom line is that people will always, always see Metallica and the band will always make money off that. Plus with recent merchandising agreements, the band is fine.
On the flip side of that argument, and looking at the potential for a new record- does this mean Metallica has free reign to do whatever it wants on a new record? Even if it doesn't do well, people will see Metallica.