In a new interview, Taylor said Ulrich “was so right on so many f**king levels” regarding the future of digital music and the compensation of artists.
“I remember everyone giving him so much shit ’cause of that,” Taylor told Steve-O on the latter’s “Wild Ride!” podcast (as transcribed by Blabbermouth). “It’s scary. And I wonder how many people look back and eat a little crow because of that… ‘Cause he knew — he knew that this was the direction we were going.”
In May 2000, Ulrich showed up to Napster’s headquarters with a 60,000 page list of 335,435 Napster users who’d pirated Metallica songs on the program. An MP3 demo for Metallica’s “I Disappear” had circulated before an official release, and a livid Ulrich tore into Napster and its users, though his opinion wasn’t widely shared.
Ulrich and other parties would ultimately prevail in a legal fight with Napster, leading to the demise of the file-sharing service, which has since been revived as a legitimate paid streaming platform.
At the time, Ulrich’s tirade was partly seen as a betrayal of fans; they were the ones downloading Metallica songs, after all. The band did not appear to benefit from the ensuing media frenzy, though years later, Taylor believes that Ulrich was onto something.
Whereas artists in 2000 may have saw MP3 file sharing as a means of free advertising and viral fandom, they’re now criticizing streaming services like Spofity, demanding fair compensation. Unlike the original Napster, Spotify and other streaming services do pay the artists, but the musicians are seeking a larger cut of the digital transaction.
Taylor continued: “It’s kind of weird, it’s kind of hard, because in this day and age, it’s really hard to know which ones of the f**king streaming services actually compensate the artists that they’re ripping off. It’s more important for me that people listen to the music. At this point, I’ve kind of made peace with the fact that there are various services who are just kind of screwing us, and until the legislation is actually enforced, which they passed under Trump — which I couldn’t f**king believe — they’ll keep charging us at that rate. But they’ve appealed that legislation. I don’t think the appeals will actually go through. They will raise the rates, and musicians will be able to make a living off their recordings again.”
Taylor is currently prepping for a socially distanced solo tour in various venues across the South and Midwest. The trek kicks off May 18th in Tempe, Arizona.
Listen to Corey Taylor’s conversation with Steve-O below.