When the history books are written about Metallica, they’ll say they grew to be the biggest metal band on the planet off of their early discography and a middling slate of latter releases. They’ll say their extensive touring spread the music worldwide. And they’ll say Lars Ulrich single-handedly killed the band’s rep for a long time for going after Napster. And while all of those things are true, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor thinks that last criticism may be completely unfair.
While chatting on the Kidd Chris – Off Air podcast (transcribed by Blabbermouth), Taylor was asked what he thought about Metallica’s lawsuit back in 2000 against Napster. And while most music consumers look back on that incident as a black mark on anyone opposing peer-to-peer downloads, Taylor lands on the other side of the conversation.
“I completely backed [METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich, who spearheaded the Napster battle], man. We’re seeing the aftermath of it, to be honest. I mean, obviously, I have to work with streaming, DSPs and whatnot, but it doesn’t mean I like it. The odds are so stacked against the artist that less and less people are able to make a living at this, man — unless you hit the jackpot. And even when you hit the jackpot, you’re paid peanuts. And it’s revolting in a lot of ways. I’m still waiting for the legislation to actually go into effect, but it’s been appealed so many times by all of the DSPs that we may never see the right way. And honestly, it’s one of the things why I’m kind of gratified by the fact that physical copies are actually coming back more and more, especially in our genre. So that, at least, is keeping us afloat. But it’s hard.
“And this is somebody who is just getting by. What about the younger bands who can’t make it? What about the younger bands who, they’re tied to the old system, and the only thing that they can do is hope and pray that something breaks through. But then you have to stream billions to make [any real money]. It’s ridiculous. The math doesn’t work. And I’m tired of talking to people about it because the math doesn’t work. They’re paid even less than the old radio structure. At least you could make a goddamn living [back then]… That’s why I commend these younger bands that are bypassing the label structure, period. And they’re going, ‘I’m not gonna let them collect everything.’ Honestly, it’s the only way to make DSPs work in your favor, is to cut out the middle man, because that’s where all the money is going.”
It’s no secret that bands these days are struggling, what with increased travel costs, venues taking their cut out of merch sales, and now streaming services paying next to nothing for each listen.
One of the major concerns, he said, was artists’ difficulty in getting medical insurance unless they’re a major act. Taylor says he worries for the smaller bands trying to get their career going.
“A lot of the people who are super popular right now, they don’t say anything because they’re super popular right now. They’re, like, ‘Ah, I’m making mine.’ But what happens when you’re not? What happens when you’re just the latest trend to be put on the shelf again? What happens when that stuff doesn’t make anything for you anymore?
“Listen, I’m gonna come off like an asshole, because it’s just the way it is. I think if more people realized how badly artists were paid, they might say something or they might try to do something. But a lot of people are selfish as well, and rightfully so, because at the end of the day, if you’re not looking out for yourself, who the hell is looking out for you? But it still doesn’t mean that the artist isn’t getting fucked.”
You can check out the whole conversation in the clip below.
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