words of windom

Metallica Are Fucking Morons by Chris Randall (aka Sister Machine Gun):

As for SMG songs on Napster, who fucking cares? You want a song, download it. You want art, buy the record. MP3s are like cassette singles that record labels give out in the millions. (I have in my house a box of 300 Sins Of The Flesh promos, that contain the entire album. These were given away with abandon, probably to the tune of 15,000 or so. It sure did hurt my career.)

I am a strong proponant of Chuck D's New Business Model, in which you make your music, make it available, and if people like you and like it, they'll buy your CD, which has something extra, and come to your show, where you make the real money. In my _long_ experience, this model will win out over the normal model, because the independant artist can roll with the punches.

I'll even give you a metaphor. The RIAA is a semi truck full of labels and artists. An independant label (I'll use Positron!, but you can pick one at will...) is a Yugo, which can only hold a couple people and their stuff.

The entertainment industry is a busy two-way street. You have to make a u-turn. Which one would you rather be driving? The new business model will win out over the old one, trust me on this. It's hard to turn this industry, and it certainly won't turn on a dime, but labels like ours are finding that you can make a decent living if you just provide a quality product in a timely fashion, and operate with a sense of propriety. I _HATE_ the majors, and have little respect for artists that whine about (a) their deals, (b) their fans or (c) piracy. Which brings us to Metallica.

Lars, Lars, Lars. You are such a fucking idiot, I can't even begin to put it in to words. Rest assured, I'll give it a try.

For exhibit A, I propose Cliff 'Em All. This VHS video has a sticker on the front that says "If this is priced more than $19.98, steal it." On the back, it says it is, among other things, (and I'm directly quoting James Hetfield here) "a compilation of bootleg footage shot by sneaky Metallifux."

So, if you have a video camera, you're sneaky. If you have a computer, you're a thief? There is _no_ difference, in the eyes of the law, between taping a live show and trading it with like-minded individuals, and making an MP3 of a song and doing the same. Both are equally illegal, under the Copyright Protection Act.

So, why does Metallica apparantly sanction one, but not the other? Who knows.

On to exhibit B. Metallica has always sanctioned the taping of live performances, but the recent Load tour took this to a new level. On the entire tour, at any show, you could buy a 'taping ticket' through Ticketmaster. If you had one of these tickets, you could then bring in your sound or video recording equipment, and set up in a special area designated for the purpose. You could either tape with microphones, or from a board feed provided by the band. Metallica has always maintained that they are better on stage than they are in the studio. So they are, in their minds at least, allowing you to record their best face.

Of course, it always has been, and probably always will be, illegal to make a recording of a band's performance and trade or sell it. But Metallica was trying to duplicate the touring success of artists like Jimmy Buffet (top grossing touring act for the last 5 years) and the Greatfull Dead (top grossing for the 15 years before that.

Those two artists realized a long time ago that there was little money to be made in selling records, when compared to the money you could make playing to sold-out arenas every night. The Rolling Stones know this. Pink Floyd knows this. Chuck D also knows this. Metallica knows this, but they've had a couple tours tank, and it makes them worried.

Anyways, Napster's purpose is to make trading music over the internet easy. Trading music over the internet is illegal. Thus, by definition, Napster must be illegal. But technically speaking, the program and company aren't breaking the law. You are, when you use their services. Kind of like it's not Smith and Wesson's fault if you use one of their products to blow some stupid cunt's head off. However, the end result is the same.

There is no practical way to stop people from trading MP3s. Anyone that thinks Napster is the end-all-be-all for this sort of thing obviously has no experience with IRC, the _real_ clearing house. If Napster is a smoking pistol, IRC is one of those chain cannons in the nose of an AH-64 Apache Helicopter, the kind that shoots bullets made of spent uranium 30 times a second that chew up Iraqi tanks as if they were Pez candies.

So, since there is no practical way to stop it, the obvious choice is to embrace it. When you think about it, which would you rather have? All the songs of the Burn album on MP3, or the CD itself, if you were going to listen at home? You'd rather have the CD, I'm willing to bet. In fact, I have bet. I don't even bother searching for MP3 sites that contain my music, and the Rarities and Remixes compilation is comprised almost entirely of MP3s we have released at one time or another.

I search Napster for SMG all the time, but only out of curiosity. Usually, you'll find the song 'Burn,' and the AC/DC cover we did for Cleopatra. Not much more. You would be hard pressed, if you were actually a fan, to collect my entire released catalog merely by using Napster. I submit that you couldn't do it. And if all you want to hear is the song 'Burn,' well, I'd be an asshole to make you spend $17.99 (or whatever TVT is charging these days) for that one song. Go ahead and download it, if you can. If you like it enough, you'll go buy the record. If you don't, no hard feelings.

Back to the subject at hand. Metallica is a band that exists at the level it does today as a direct result of bootlegging, where one jackass meshback-capped redneck is giving a mix tape to another of the same persuasion, increasing the band's attendance at shows, and thus album sales.

Metallica now has money, as a direct result of bootlegging. Metallica now spends the money they made that way fighting bootlegging.

Metallica are fucking morons.