At a Spotify event in New York today, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and Napster co-founder Sean Parker buried the hatchet and announced that the legendary heavy metal band is making its entire catalogue available on Spotify, effective immediately.
In 2000, Metallica filed a $10 million lawsuit against Napster, accusing the file-sharing network created by teenage hacker Shawn Fanning and his friends of copyright infringement and racketeering. Napster ultimately filed for bankruptcy, but Metallica -- and, in particular, Ulrich, who acted as an unofficial band spokesman -- did not emerge unscathed. After Ulrich hand-delivered a 60,000-page list of users accused of trading unauthorized MP3's, Napster blocked more than 300,000 people from its service -- and blamed Metallica. If Napster's founders were portrayed as heedless pirates, Metallica wound up being tarred as rich rock stars who didn't appreciate their fans.
Over the past two years, Ulrich and Parker have formed an unlikely friendship -- and discovered that they have more in common than they realized. Both feel that their positions in the Napster dispute were unfairly distorted, and both have found a common cause in Spotify. Parker says it was always his dream to sign licensing deals with rights holders and turn Napster into a Spotify-esque legal listening service. Ulrich points out that Metallica made its name via informal tape-swapping and had always allowed its fans to record concerts and share those recordings as they pleased. The issue, he says, was control, not money, and the conflict began when an unauthorized mix of a song recorded for the "Mission Impossible II" soundtrack wound up being played on radio stations. Upon investigation, the band discovered that the file had originated on Napster.
"It was never about money, it was always about control," Ulrich said in a panel discussion with Parker and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, moderated by HuffPost executive arts and entertainment editor Michael Hogan.
Glassnote Records chief Daniel Glass was also on hand to endorse Spotify -- a big nod given the label represents the likes of Mumford & Sons. Ek said his company has paid out $500 million to rights holders -- a figure which constitues 70% of Spotify's income and has doubled over the past 9 months.
Ek also previewed a beta version of Spotify's new web interface, designed to lower the barrier of entry for new users and increase sharing behavior.
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