Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has said that the band “did not make a difference” after pursuing legal action against Napster.
The band sued the music file-sharing service in 2000 after a leaked demo version of their song ‘I Disappear’ was distributed on the platform before its official release. They eventually settled out of court, with more than 300,000 users banned from Napster.
During an appearance on the podcast Let There Be Talk, hosted by actor Dean Delray, the group’s guitarist discussed the legal dispute. “The amazing thing now is back then, people were saying, ’20 years from now, we’re gonna look back and say, ‘Goddamn it! We did the right thing,’” he said.
“But when people were saying back then we were actually gonna make a difference? We didn’t make a difference — we did not make a difference. It happened. And we couldn’t stop it, because it was just bigger than any of us — this trend that happened that fucking sunk the fucking music industry. There was no way that we could stop it. It was a perfectly human thing that just happened. And what had happened was all of a sudden, it was just more convenient to get music and it was less convenient to pay for it. And there you have it.”
Hammett continued by saying file-sharing brought artists “back to the minstrel age now where musicians’ only source of income is actually playing”.
“And it’s like that nowadays — except that a lot of these bands [chuckles] aren’t really playing; they’re pressing ‘play’ or something,” he said, adding that having to play to make money off music wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“That’s cool, because it really separates who wants to do this and who is just here for the fucking pose […] You’ll see who’s passionate about it and who’s really into it for the art of it, and then you’ll see who’s not so passionate about it and into the commerce of it.”
On whether things would change in the future, Hammett commented: “Maybe all of a sudden people will just start to prefer CDs or whatever format as to what’s available now. Who’s to say? I mean, it changed all so quickly back then; it could fucking change just as quickly now.”
Earlier this week Metallica paid tribute to Ray Burton, the father of the band’s late bassist Cliff, after it was confirmed that he had died at the age of 94.