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Metallica’s Lars Ulrich Talks Streaming Services + Being in the Entertainment ‘Yellow Pages’

Metallica Lars Ulrich
Ian Gavan, Getty Images

Back in the early 2000s, Lars Ulrich was one of the loudest voices speaking out against streaming music site Napster. Metallica wouldn’t even sell their music via pay-to-download site iTunes until 2006. But times have changed. The group’s music is not only available on iTunes, but can be streamed on Spotify and may possibly be included on the new Apple Music that launches on June 30.

In a new interview with Billboard, Ulrich spoke about the band’s current view of streaming music. “You don’t want to necessarily say yes to everything that comes your way,” explained the drummer. “Obviously, in the case of Apple, they’re a bigger brand or company than anybody and they have some very smart people running it. So we’d call [Apple Music] a no-brainer. Personally, I have 37 Apple products and that’s just me not counting the rest of my family, so that’s a fairly easy one for me. We’ve been in a relationship with Daniel Ek and Spotify for a few years, which has been very rewarding. He’s a smart guy and getting our music out, we try to align ourselves with the people who are smartest. You can tell a lot about the companies by the people who run them.”

Besides being available for streaming on Spotify, Metallica worked with Coke Zero on a campaign in 2013 where they performed in Antarctica, becoming the first band to play all seven different continents in one year. Ulrich also spoke about their decision-making behind teaming up with brands. “I wouldn’t say that we’re proactively out there hunting down brands to try to fulfill some piece of a larger battle plan or manifest or something,” Ulrich revealed. “People think I’m joking, but when I say we’re available in the Yellow Pages, within the entertainment industry, you know how to reach out. People can find us … We primarily engage these types of endeavors when they’re presented to us around the release of a new record or something you want to get out there to people — major tours, milestones, new records.”

He did say though, that they are careful not to go overboard when it comes to marking milestones. “You gotta be careful. You don’t wave the flag continuously for old laurels and things that you’ve done way in your past,” stated Ulrich. “It’s tricky to find the right balance between looking into the future and celebrating the past. These days in rock ‘n’ roll, as active as we’ve been over the years, you can find a celebration in almost anything, so we kind of shy away from doing too much of that.” Back in 2011, the group did mark their 30th anniversary with a week-long celebration in San Francisco. They played four separate shows for members of their fan club.

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