Metallica’s Lars Ulrich says streaming is ‘good’ but music is getting ‘blander’

The musician discusses services such as Apple Music and Spotify

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has blamed the decline of the music industry not on streaming but what he perceives as artists becoming “blander”.

Speaking to BBC World Service, Ulrich said: “I believe streaming is good for music. People sit there and go, ‘I’m not getting paid very much for streaming’ but streaming is a choice on all fronts. It’s a choice for the fan to be part of… it’s a choice for the artists who are involved in making their music available on streaming services. It’s a choice by the record companies that represent the artist… 15 years ago those choices didn’t exist.”

However, Ulrich did acknowledge that streaming helps popular artists more than independent musicians.

Speaking on The Inquiry he admitted: “Streaming probably does benefit artists with higher profiles, yes. A lot of these playlists that are being made available for people in the streaming service, they seem to feature higher profile artists and that just seems to be the way it’s sort of playing out right now.”

Instead, Ulrich sees the quality of modern music itself as one of the main faults in today’s musical climate.

“One of the main reasons I connect less with new music in my life now is because there’s less great new music to connect with,” the musician continued.

“I mean a lot of the stuff that’s been played is just regurgitated, this year’s flavour, this thing, but it’s not people on the leading edge like The Beatles or the Miles Davises or the Jimmy Hendrixes taking us all by the hand into these completely unknown, unchartered musical territories.”

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Ulrich recently spoke of his admiration for streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, describing a possible team-up with Apple Music as “a no-brainer”.

“Personally, I have 37 Apple products and that’s just me not counting the rest of my family, so that’s a fairly easy one for me,” he said.

On Spotify, the drummer added: “We’ve been in a relationship with Daniel Ek and Spotify for a few years, which has been very rewarding. He’s a smart guy and getting our music out, we try to align ourselves with the people who are smartest. You can tell a lot about the companies by the people who run them. With Daniel, he’s very passionate about music so you feel safe with him.

“Same with Eddy Cue and the people who run the music over at Apple; they’re very passionate about artists and music and so on, so you feel like there’s safe relationships to be in.”