Metallica and YouTube
It’s clear from Lars Ulrich that this move was part of wanting an level playing field for all their fans
The problem with interviewees like Lars Ulrich is that they talk too much. You’ll find my interview with the Metallica drummer and co-founder here. It was done in New York at the end of September, as part of a promo whirlwind to plug the release of their new album “Hardwired . . . To Self-Destruct”. The night before the interview, the band played a show at the city’s Webster Hall which, when you’re Metallica, is what passes for intimate nowadays.
The interview with Ulrich ran to 2,800 word or thereabouts when transcribed, but there was only room for 1,284 in the piece which appeared in the paper so some stuff gets left out. Most of the time when you leave stuff out, you’re happy enough with the choices you’ve made. You’re usually after colour and anecdote and, with Ulrich, there was plenty of that. You look at some quotes and go ‘what the fuck is he on about?’ and leave it out.
Aside from releasing their new album on all the usual formats last Friday, Metallica also stuck the album on YouTube, which garnered a lot of attention online. Here was Metallica, the band who most famously faced down Napster and got ridiculed for doing so (see interview for more on this), giving away their music for free in a fashion. Then, I remembered a quote from Ulrich during the interview and went ‘oh’.
I had asked him if the band had been approachd by Spotify or Apple Music about doing some sort of exclusive around the release of the new album and here’s what he had to say. A follow-up question might have led to a mention for YouTube, but it’s a lesson that you should always listen closely to what your interviewee is talking because sometimes a story is hiding in plain sight.
“It’s not so much to play people off against each other”, said Ulrich about these exclusives. “After we write and record a bunch of songs, we ask how best do we get them to the people who want to hear them. It’s not ‘how do we make the most money?’, it’s not how we look at it.
“The hardest thing about putting a record out in 2016 is making sure what you do works for everyone. We live in San Francisco which is the epicentre of technology and progressive ways of thinking. I go to a dinner party and I’m sitting next to a person who wants ot change the world and he’s saying ‘you should this or that’. That’s great but it’s different for Ireland or Portugal or Malaysia. You don’t want to do one thing that works for just here. In Serbia, they buy CDs for instance, lots of them. We want an even playing field for our fans wherever they are. That’s the MO for us in 2016.”