According to Billboard.com, METALLICA's entire catalog is returning to Napster, 17 years after the band filed a famously contentious lawsuit against the former peer-to-peer file-sharing network. The news comes two days ahead of the arrival of METALLICA's tenth studio album, "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct".
"The release of METALLICA's new album comes at an incredible time for streaming music with streaming subscriptions accounting for almost half of industry sales in the first half of 2016," Napster said in a statement. "Today, Napster is a legal, paid subscription service with a catalog of over 40 million tracks. We are thrilled to bring METALLICA's full catalog — including their latest new album — to Napster subscribers around the world."
Napster, which last reported 3.5 million paid subscriptions, claims to be in the top five of global music streaming services but is well behind Spotify (40 million at last count) and Apple Music (reportedly 17 million). The streaming service, which Rhapsody purchased in 2011, fully rebranded itself as Napster in July of this year. (Before that, it was known as Rhapsody in the U.S. and Napster elsewhere.)
METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich was asked in a recent 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 shitstorm 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 shit fucking scared and too much of a pussy 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," he said. "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.