Thanks to the always informed people at Wired, I have been reminded that, on this very day – April 13th – 12 years ago, a little band called Metallica began an annoying crusade to stop what was then considered THE downloaders’ paradise: the legendary Napster.
For those of you too young to remember, Napster was a wonderful service created by – then youngster – Shawn Fanning, that allowed people to easily share their MP3 files with other folks. Let me tell you this, it was awesome and, for a while, it was definetely one of the best platforms online!
Unfortunately, however, all good things come to an end and it wasn’t long until a little group of artists started bitching about Napster and how much the filesharing was hurting their art and efforts.
First in line were Metallica, the greedy bastards! Dont’ get me wrong, I am a pretty huge Metallica fan (at least I was until “…And Justice for All”) and I understand that copyright infringement might be a serious problem for some artists who struggle to make ends meet. But for Metallica? Puh-lease!!! These guys have been around since 1981, they have sold gazillions of records all over the world, got 13 platinum albums, have toured every two years for the past three decades… they’re on a freakin Forbes list for crying out loud! And still, no matter how rich and famous they were and are, they had to go and file a lawsuit against Napster, which, obviously, marked the beginning of the end for the epic pirates’ hotspot.
Meanwhile, other artists were actually looking at the positive and useful side of such a service. Like Ian MacKaye, from Fugazi, who said “Most people I know who use Napster listen to stuff they’ve never heard before. And then they get psyched and go out and buy the damn records. It’s more like a sampler.” Of course!
So, yes, 12 years later I still blame Metallica for this sad piece of music history. The year when Napster went down and Metallica lost my respect. Then again, we know that the story didn’t end there and that pirates will be pirates no matter what happens – which basically means that there will always be a place for filesharing if you look hard enough. But let’s not forget that, even though Napster in its original form is long gone, its legacy is still very much alive (iTunes, anyone?).