Corey Taylor Says He ‘Completely Backed’ Lars Ulrich in Metallica’s Napster Battle
Back in 2000, Metallica's Lars Ulrich was loudly criticized for turning over the user IDs of over 335,000 people who had illegally downloaded Metallica's leaked song "I Disappear" via Napster in attempting to receive fair compensation for the music. But in a new interview, Corey Taylor says he "completely backed" Lars in that early 2000s fight and the ramifications of not having stronger opposition are still being felt today.
Taylor was appearing on Off Air With Kidd Chris podcast (as heard below), when he addressed Ulrich's actions back then and the consequences that artists are currently facing for not taking a stronger stand at the time.
"I completely backed [Lars], man. We're seeing the aftermath of it, to be honest. 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," said the singer.
"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," he continued. "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."
Taylor says he commends younger bands these days that have bypassed the label structure, realizing that by cutting out the middle man, they might actually make some money through the digital service providers.
That said, things are not as easy for today's musicians in the streaming world. "It's hard for people to get medical insurance, for Christ's sake — I mean, something that is just basic. Unless you have made it to the upper echelon and you can afford it and you can provide it not only for the people who are in a band with you and their families but you can offer a smaller version of that to your crew," says Taylor. "But at the same time, because crew is even more temporary, it's hard to do that, because they're not technically employees; they are temps. So it's a difficult industry to really kind of prolong. And you're talking to somebody who can't believe that he's gone as long as he has. So when you look at… At the end of the day, the stuff that should be working for me when I can't tour as much doesn't anymore because of the way that the percentages are worked out. And that's one of the reasons why people are so up in arms about it."
Taylor also called out some of his peers for not taking a stronger stance on the ills of streaming payouts. "A lot of the people who are super popular right now, they don't say anything because they're super popular right now," Taylor continued. "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?"
The singer adds, "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."
This isn't the first time Taylor has defended Ulrich's position in the Napster battle. He previously told Steve-O on his Wild Ride podcast, "I remember everyone giving him so much shit 'cause of that, and he was so right on so many fucking levels, dude, 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."
And back in 2019, Taylor spoke about Tool finally adding their music to streaming services, noting, “There's a reason that Tool waited as long as they did to put the stuff up on streaming services. Because they knew they weren't gonna be compensated for something that they worked their asses off for.”