Metallica’s Lars Ulrich recently shared his thoughts on how the music industry has changed since the thrash giants started out, noting how he’s grateful that people “still stream or buy or steal our records.”
It has been noted that the music industry has definitely changed a lot. Some put the blame on the rising importance of social media — such as Toto’s Steve Lukather, who posited that “if you don’t have one song and a million followers on Instagram, you could write ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ [and] nobody’s gonna take it” — while others tend to highlight the perceived imbalance between the artist and the record label in the current business model.
“Well, obviously it’s changed quite a bit. And in your guys’ industry, some of the same things that we were dealing with 20 years ago are happening. Big picture, and I know this may sound like a little bit of a cop-out, I’m just happy that fucking anybody cares about what we’re doing and shows up to see us play and still stream or buy or steal our records or whatever. The engagement itself, I think, is the triumph and the victory. Obviously, it’s way, way harder for a lot of the younger bands nowadays because they don’t get the support of the record companies for basic things — just like gear and tour support. So there is very much of a different thing.”
Lars believes that real talent will always be rewarded, he does acknowledge that average bands have it much harder these days:
“Talent, good songwriting eventually will find a home with a larger group of people. And whether you do it from your bedroom or through a record company or whatever, I believe that everybody will be heard eventually if they’re talented. But it is tough. It’s tough for a lot of the younger bands out there and for a lot of the… The bands that 20 years ago could make a living playing clubs or theaters are having a harder time now because they don’t sell as many records and you really have to be out there and pushing it.”
While noting how writing new music is a crucial part of the whole deal for Metallica, the drummer notes that not every other legacy band is in the same position:
“There are a lot of bands that have been around as long as we have that simply don’t wanna make records anymore because it either doesn’t work for them or the business model of it doesn’t work for them. And I can’t speak for everybody else. We love writing songs. Being creative is a significant part of who we are.”
“Obviously I understand that we’re exceptionally fortunate, but our success gives us the opportunity to sort of do all that. But if somebody said, ‘You can’t write or make records anymore,’ we would probably stop what we’re doing because it’s such an essential part of just our existence as people.”