Structural change in the music industry: a Marxist critique of public statements made by members of Metallica during the lawsuit against Napster
by Kieran James, Christopher Tolliday
International Journal of Critical Accounting (IJCA), Vol. 1, No. 1/2, 2009

Abstract: The music industry is undergoing extremely rapid structural change not of its own choosing and record labels will no longer be able to rely on coercive seven-record deals and business methods that have remained unchanged since the 1960s. This paper provides a case study of the 2000-2001 lawsuit by extreme-metal band Metallica against the rogue file-sharing service Napster as a compressed site for analysis in which we can analyse and unpack the music industry's present predicament, warped logic and the greed of its various protagonists. The paper is informed by a Marxist critique of public statements made by members of Metallica during what has come to be referred to as the 'Napster incident'. The band's departure from its previous existentialist and fraternal worldview in favour of a brutal form of Anglo-American market capitalism is exposed and we conclude that long-term extreme-metal fans are justified in their vilification of the band. The band is accountable to the scene and the scene has decided that Metallica has violated normative scene ethics or, in other words, the scene's internal social contract.

Online publication date: Tue, 19-May-2009

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