Well, this may seem odd. Metallica has uploaded all 10 songs of its latest album Hardwired….To Self-Destruct to its YouTube channel. That means that fans can get the album online for free.
Wasn’t Metallica the band that lead the charge against Napster way back when, making a case against free online music? And isn’t the band’s management, Q-Prime, one of the leaders in railing against YouTube as “the devil,” stating that “If someone doesn’t do something about YouTube, we’re screwed. It’s over. Turn off the lights.” Yep, one in the same.
So did a record label upload the songs against the band’s wishes? No, that didn’t happen either, since the band owns this album outright and released it on its own label called Blackened Recordings Inc.
The fact of the matter is that the band and management is just being pragmatic and understands that the music game is now played differently in 2016 than it was way back in 1999. If the band didn’t upload the songs themselves, then within 10 minutes of its release the fans would’ve done it anyway. At least this way Metallica has at least some control over the situation and has a chance to monetize the videos. Sure, it’s not at a rate that anyone wants, but at least doing it this way allows them to maximize the little they’ll bring in. Plus, they’ll incentivize fans to continue to visit the band’s YouTube site and other online properties, which will be valuable down the line for marketing tours, mech and other releases.
So on the surface, this might seem like a sellout (as was the band’s recent return to Napster after 17 years), but the fact is that they’re doing what every artist should be doing today, and that’s maximizing its social authority and keeping fans in the right places, rather than have them scattered around online.