We recently confirmed that Metallica is launching its own label, Blackened Recordings, after being with the Warner / Elektra family for nearly thirty years.
The band will release its next album through Blackened, which they hope to record next year. Metallica also announced that it will be working with the music subscription company, Spotify, to help get more music out into the world.
While the band first went to war with Napster back in the day, now they’re going to be in the business with the enemy, Sean Parker is on the board, which is what a lot of bands and labels should have done from the first place. Indeed, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich even recently admitted he would have handled the whole Napster thing differently today.
While the deal just went through on December 6, Billboard is reporting it may not be helping the band’s sales so far.
Now again, the deal just went through a couple of weeks ago, but Billboard reports that Spotify may indeed be eating into sales for bands on big and small levels. This report tells us that Metallica’s catalog album sales are 15% below expectations the week they were added on to Spotify, and then they were 35% below expectations the following week. In 2010 and 2011, Metallica’s sales went up 60% before Christmas, but this year they only went up 27%.
Again, as we all know, it’s a completely different music business today, and bands big and small have to tour like crazy to make a living, cause the money isn’t coming in from album sales anymore. As Kirk Hammett told Rolling Stone, "The cycles of taking two years off don’t exist anymore. We were able to do that because we had record royalties coming in consistently. Now you put out an album, and you have a windfall maybe once or twice but not the way it used to be – a check every three months.
"We’ve been a live band, we’ve had to get out there and play, play, play,” Hammett continued. “And it’s kind of touché because nowadays that was the area we wanted to kind of lay back on a little bit, and kind of enjoy our families and things. But, you know, it is what it is, and we can’t change that.”
Hammett’s also still promoting his book on horror films, Too Much Horror Business, like crazy, and his fever for all things horror still burns strong. Yet even with his resources, he told Guitar World, “There’s been numerous times when I’ve missed out on stuff. Occasionally I’m on the road when the auctions are happening, so I can’t be there or I’m in the wrong time zone to get on the phone.”
One time, Kirk missed out on the black and white hotel photo from the Shining, you know, the old picture in the bar that Jack Nicholson ends up appearing in at the end.
“I decided to bid $1,200 for it, thinking no one would go that high. But it ended up going for $1,400, and I missed it!” Then the picture was up for auction again, and Kirk put up $12,000, thinking no one else would bid that high. “That’s a ridiculous price, but I still didn’t get it a second time!”