Metallica livestream audio replaced by royalty-free plinky-plonk

James Hetfield singing
(Image credit: BlizzCon/YouTube)

Back in 2014, Metallica played the closing set at the annual gaming convention BlizzCon, held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

This year, with lockdown in operation, the band were invited back to perform an online set, with the show broadcast live on Blizzcon's YouTube and Twitch channels. So far, so good.

One problem: Twitch, like many online platforms, have become the unwitting subject of increased record company vigilance where it comes to copyrighted music being made available online. And it appears as though – rather than risk a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice for broadcasting Metallica's set – Twitch replaced the audio in the band's stream with plinky-plonk royalty-free music shortly after the cameras rolled.

The result? For Whom The Bell Tolls sounding as it never has before (the "switch" happens 15 seconds into the clip below). 

Naturally enough, the internet was thoroughly delighted with the Twitch debacle, claiming that the DMCA came into effect partly as a result of Metallica's legal battles with Napster back in 2000. Oh, the irony!

Then others correctly pointed out the the DMCA came into effect two years before the Napster case even came to court, but it was too late. The internet had already made its mind up, and moved on to other things. 

Twitch has faced thousands of takedown orders from major record labels since May last year under the auspices of the DMCA, usually because gamers are playing copyrighted material in the background as they play online.  

At the time of writing, the full version of For Whom The Bell Tolls, without the plinky-plonk, can be witnessed on YouTube.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.