Metalocalypse’s Brendon Small Claims Lars Ulrich ‘Was Correct’ on Napster Fight
Earlier this year, Metalocalypse creator and Dethklok leader Brendon Small bowed out of San Diego's Comic-Con as a show of solidarity with striking writers in the entertainment industry. During a recent chat with Blabbermouth, Small likened what is going on with writers right now to Lars Ulrich's battle with Napster in the early 2000s when payment for file shared music was on the table.
“Do you know what this time feels like to me? This is like when Napster started 20, 25 years ago and there was file-sharing. Everyone was like, ‘What happened?’ except for Lars [Ulrich]," explained Small. "It reminds me of, ‘Oh man. I wish musicians could have gotten together and moved the needle the way actors and writers are.’"
He adds, "Everything could go away. Corporations aren’t known to be sensitive to all these things. They have to be told to negotiate. That’s what Napster and Spotify could have been. Music would stop being promotional. People had to leave the business years ago and get different jobs. Everything stopped, including the monetization of music. The same thing is happening right now. The streaming world is different from the legacy TV world where I started.”
When the interviewer brought up that Ulrich had printed out the names of Napster users who had downloaded the band's unreleased single "I Disappear" at the time, Small responded, “He was correct. I’m sure he wouldn’t go to Congress and name names if he had a time machine. He would probably say there’s a better way to do it since it was terrifying to those people. When I grew up, you’d tape people’s tapes because you couldn’t afford something. But when I did have money, I remember saving money, making up a plan, going to a record store with perfect change, adding in the tax and pledging my allegiance to Guns N’ Roses.”
Back in August, Small also credited Ulrich's Napster battle to what's going on with the Hollywood writers in an interview with Full Metal Jackie. At the time, he said, "I think people need to come to the table and meet and I do think there are big conversations that need to be had about streaming rights, residuals, AI, very big [questions]. I hate this is the kind of conversation that I think the music industry should have had in the early 2000s when Napster and file sharing were happening."
He added, "Lars [Ulrich] already tried to have a conversation. He tried to start it but I think it's kind of like [we should] nip it in the bud now so that we can move on and be creative together and I think that's kind of what I think is an important thing to say in solidarity with all people striking."
Elaborating with Blabbermouth, Small stated, "I'll say this: I agree with the writers and the Guild. I agree with the actors."
He added, "I started on network TV on UPN with Home Movies, my first show. You'd get your Nielsen ratings and see whether you had a job next week. You were in constant danger of losing everything. That's par for the course, but at least it was fair. You know where you stood. They weren't hiding anything from you. You'd see your ratings and go, 'I think we're in trouble.' [Laughs] Technology is changing and everything has to acclimate. This is a crazy time for all these mergers to be happening. The monopolization and going back to legacy TV, and I've been saying this, I was lucky to be part of a network, Adult Swim, where somebody wanted to build something new rather than trying to make content, but that word didn't exist. There was creativity and a little bit of danger and 'fuck you' and lunacy and absurdity to it. This is a different time now. I think it's strange. I don't know what the buyers want at these networks. I ask, 'What is your network's ideology?' They shrug and say they'll do anything."