When Metallica went to war with file-sharing service Napster in 2000, after discovering that a work-in-progress version of their I Disappear single was being illegally downloaded by tens of thousands of its users, they opened a debate which split the music industry. Leading the charge in this battle against online piracy, drummer Lars Ulrich became, in his own, “the most hated man in rock ’n’ roll”, the Dane being portrayed as a money-grabbing, out-of-touch bully.
“It’s not like Metallica need any more money than they’ve got,’ Deftones frontman Chino Moreno commented.
“I saw that idiot from Deftones saying shit about me,” Ulrich responded. ‘Is that the best argument people can come up with? Do we need more money? No, we’re fine. Thank you for asking about my financial situation but I’m taken care of for ten fucking lifetimes. Is it possible this could be about something else?”
“I have to remind myself that I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” said the Dane. “You have to remember, this isn’t just about music: the reason that music is out of the box first is that it’s the shortest amount of digital information that’s tradable. But, according to the information we’re getting, we’re probably 12 to 18 months away from a situation where the day that a movie opens in theatres, it can be downloaded for free on computers all over the world, and the day that Tom Clancy writes a new book it’ll be up on the internet for anyone who wants it. I mean, that’s fucked up stuff. And that is a fight, I believe, worth fighting for.”
Twenty-one years on, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor says that Ulrich was “so right on so many fucking levels” in his vision of the future.
"I remember everyone giving him so much shit 'cause of that, and he was so right on so many fucking levels, dude,” Taylor tells former Jackass daredevil Steve-O on his Wild Ride With Steve-O podcast. "It's scary. And I wonder how many people look back and eat a little crow because of that… 'Cause he knew — he knew that this was the direction we were going.”
“It’s kind of weird, it’s kind of hard, because in this day and age, it’s really hard to know which ones of the fucking streaming services actually compensate the artists that they’re ripping off," Taylor continued. "It’s more important for me that people listen to the music. At this point, I’ve kind of made peace with the fact that there are various services who are just kind of screwing us, and until the legislation is actually enforced, which they passed under Trump — which I couldn’t fucking believe — they’ll keep charging us at that rate. But they’ve appealed that legislation. I don’t think the appeals will actually go through. They will raise the rates, and musicians will be able to make a living off their recordings again.”
Listen to the full episode with Taylor below.