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Digital music antagonists Metallica finally come to Spotify

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Metallica logo
Metallica logo

Music streaming service Spotify is announcing a slew of new features this morning, and it's also adding a major new act to its roster: Metallica. While Metallica's music is already available on some online services like iTunes, the band is perhaps best known in this arena for its fierce opposition to the file sharing that took place in the early days of digital music. The band filed lawsuits against both Napster and its own fans for pirating Metallica songs in the past, with much of the public rhetoric led by drummer Lars Ulrich.

Perhaps fittingly, it was Ulrich himself that appeared on stage today at Spotify's event to announce the news. The band was able to cut a deal, he said, because of the way revenues in digital music operate. They usually benefit the owner of the music rather than the performer. At this point in Metallica's career, however, it owns all its own music — so it will receive all of the revenue from Spotify itself.

Services like Spotify, MOG, and Rdio have pointed to this discrepancy as one of the main reasons why streaming services are viewed unfairly by some artists. While the services may pay an agreeable amount to record labels, what actually makes it into the pocket of the artist depends on the deal the artist has with their label. Metallica has no such middleman, so it's able to embrace Spotify whole-heartedly — to the benefit of its fans everywhere.