Eliot Van Buskirk has, as always, terrific music coverage for Wired. The story this time: how Metallica’s Radiohead/Nine Inch Nails-style Internet release, free of DRM, seems only to make people angry. It gives a glimpse into how the Internet release could evolve over time, outside the aura of joy in which the latter two bands are enveloped. I can make the story short, though:

  • In many circles, Metallica is no longer cool or never was cool.
  • Lawyer make people MAD. Angry. Smash. (Apparently in addition to going after 60,000 pages of fans on Napster, Metallica doesn’t even like fan-made buttons.)
  • Metallica is not Radiohead or Trent Reznor. (Stop the presses!)
  • Even if you’re not Radiohead or Trent Reznor, you probably want your fans on your side. Pitchforks and torches tend to be a bad sign.

Of course, some might see the doomsday scenario of Internet music releases, in which fans determine that all music should be free and you can’t make money on releases any more. Big bands give away their stuff for free, the independent artist dies, music isn’t made any more, etc., etc. But given glowing fans proclaiming that they’re “glad I could shell out 40 pounds for the discbox” of In Rainbows, that seems unlikely.

And that’s the fundamental nature of fans. They’re looking for ways to give you their money so you can give them something back. Lesson learned by Metallica: don’t piss them off.

Fans Rip Metallica a New One [Wired.com Listening Post; enjoy the Napster-era parody video]

Photo: massdistraction, via Flickr.