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Metallica drummer revisits Napster battle 16 years later


Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was asked in a new interview with Mojo for his thoughts on the band's infamous 2000 legal battle with Napster, in which the band fought the then-pioneering music sharing service over the issue of allowing users to illegally download Metallica tracks without paying royalties to the group. Looking back at the experience, Ulrich said, "I'm proud of the fact that we stood up for what we believed in at the time. Could we have been better prepared for the s**tstorm that followed? Absolutely! We were ignorant as to what we were getting involved in. But that's always been the case."

He continued, "In the beginning, Napster was a street fight . . . then all of a sudden this whole other thing happened and we were in the middle of it, alone. Every day that summer, there was not a musician or peer or somebody inside the music business who wouldn't pat me on the back and go, 'You guys are standing up for the rest of us.' But the minute we were out in public, we were on our own. Everybody was too s**t f**king scared and too much of a p**sy to take a step forward."

  • The drummer added, "The only annoying thing that still resonates 16 years later is that the other side were really smart: they made it about money. But it was never about money. Never. It was about control. Yet still to this day there's this perception . . . that Metallica are greedy (and) money-hungry, and that's not who we are or ever were."
  • At the time 16 years ago, Ulrich said that the Napster battle was not about getting money for the band's music, but about having control over how it was shared: "All we want as an artist is a choice. There's nothing to argue about that. Nobody has the right to do with our music whatever they want. We do."
  • Metallica sued Napster after the band discovered that a leaked demo version of its song "I Disappear" was circulating on the service before it was released.
  • In later years, Metallica has embraced digital music: in December 2012, the band made all nine of its studio albums, as well as various live material, singles, remixes and collaborations, available on Spotify.
  • Metallica's 10th studio album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, will arrive on November 18th.


  • Napster was launched in 1999 as a pioneering, easy-to-use peer-to-peer file sharing service that was used mainly by music fans trading songs and albums in the MP3 format.
  • At its peak, the service had 80 million users. Its success arguably began the end of the "album era" in popular music and sent the music industry into a tailspin from which it has never fully recovered.
  • Lars Ulrich,the main spokesperson for Metallica in the Napster battle, has since become friends with Napster co-founder and current Spotify investor Sean Parker and even attended Parker's wedding.

READ: Get the full story from Blabbermouth


Photo by Mike Coppola | Getty Images

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