By Niki D’Andrea
What the hell is wrong with Metallica? I had some empathy about the whole Napster snafu in 2000, when the band complained about copyright violations and being ripped off for royalties when Napster was a free file-sharing site. Metallica won a settlement from Napster (now a pay site), and alienated a lot of fans in the process.
I was one of them. See, you can’t stop bootlegs. Metallica, of all bands, should know that -- their initial fan base was built upon bootleg copies of tapes that metal fans traded and passed along. I’d never heard of Metallica until a friend gave me a taped copy (yes, a copy) of the band’s 1986 album, Master of Puppets. That bootleg copy led me to purchase all of Metallica’s albums, several T-shirts, and tickets to their shows when they came to town.
Of course, that was before Metallica made the “One” video in 1989 and became MTV darlings. Ever since the band got the corporate culture machine behind them, they’ve vehemently turned their backs on the old school, grassroots metal community that helped put them where they are today.
Now, it seems they’re taking their prima donna behavior a step further.
Last Wednesday, Metallica invited several bloggers to a “listening party” in London for its upcoming album. Now, “listening parties” are public relations stunts. Anybody who’s been in this business for longer than a week knows that PR companies hold listening parties for the purpose of generating pre-release press and hype. Listening parties can be expensive and time-consuming, and so they are generally not done just for fun.
Metallica uber alles.
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But when bloggers wrote reviews of what they’d heard at the listening party, Metallica went ballistic, demanding that the reviews be taken down. One site in particular, The Quietus, has reported that the band’s management asked the site to remove the blog about the new album, even though Metallica’s management did not ask the blogger to sign a non-disclosure agreement (which would have legally prevented attendees from writing about the listening party or the six songs they’d heard previewed there).
Other publications whose reporters attended the listening party and wrote reviews – including Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and Rock Sound – were reportedly asked to remove their reviews, as well.
Ironically, none of the now-removed reviews were negative. The least glowing review was that on The Quietus, and Quietus editor Luke Turner told Blinded By Hype that “if you were lucky enough to read [the review] before it was taken down, was full of praise about a return to form.”
Metallica’s management has refused to comment on the matter. But in this case, the band’s behavior is comment enough.