Kirk Hammett on Metallica’s Napster lawsuit: “We didn’t make a difference”

The guitarist remains optimistic about the future, though.

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Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has opened up about the band’s famous March 2000 lawsuit against file-sharing network Napster, saying that they “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,” Hammett said on the Let There Be Talk podcast. “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.”

However, Hammett feels that the industry could still go back to the way it was. “Maybe things might change,” he said. “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.”

Drummer Lars Ulrich also reflected on the controversy during an interview with Rolling Stone published in 2016, saying their lawsuit was more about artist empowerment than money. “It was literally about choice,” he said. “Whose choice is it to make your music available for free downloads? We were saying, ‘Hang on. It should be our choice.’” The drummer added that it was Napster that “made it between us and the fans, which was a really, really smart move”.

Reflecting on the band’s choice of actions against Napster, Ulrich agreed that it could have been better handled. “I underestimated what Napster meant to people in terms of the freedom it represented,” he said. “So I think that sometimes even if you don’t want to, you gotta kinda just do a little bit of due diligence before you jump — at least have an idea of where you think you’re gonna land.”

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