Perhaps no band has had it rougher than Metallica in the wake of the early noughties piracy boom. Forget for a minute that they haven’t released anything worthwhile since the turn of Generation X and realize that Napster, not atrocities like ReLoad and St. Anger have been the catalysts to lifestyle compromises. In May of last year, guitarist Kirk Hammett talked about the harsh realities of the modern music industry, complaining that he no longer gets a royalty cheques every few months during regular two year breaks from touring. A band having to tour to make money? What a travesty.
But the real revelation is that their music is still selling. Like, a ton. Not their new stuff, obviously, but before the ball dropped (ha!) at the end of December, two of their twenty-year-old releases snatched additional platinum certificates. The big winner was Metallica, better known as the Black Album, which was certified 16x platinum, but Ride the Lightning, a much better album, followed up having now sold more than 6 million copies.
So while we’re sorry the band has to work to make money, it’s obvious that they’re still coasting off the fruits of their labour twenty-one years after the fact. VVN Music also reports that they received a whack of 500,000+ certifications for the sale of individual songs (6 certificates) and ringtones (two). That’s ten RIAA certifications in one month.