Metallica released their fifth studio album in 1991. Though technically self-titled, the album is affectionately known as The Black Album, and is arguably the second-most memorable thing that Metallica contributed to popular culture, with bangers like “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters.”
But the band’s #1 most memorable and lasting mark on the world was probably their pissing match with Napster, which ultimately changed the trajectory of the entire music industry.
To celebrate 30 years since the release of The Black Album, Metallica curated a tribute album to themselves. The just-released Blacklist album features a whopping 53 covers of songs from The Black Album, by artists ranging from Mac DeMarco to Weezer to St. Vincent to Phoebe Bridgers to Miley Cyrus and Elton John. Like most music these days, you can stream Blacklist via Spotify or Apple Music or whatever other platform you prefer. Or you can buy it as a 7-record vinyl boxed set, which costs around $150 — about the price I’d expect for any 7-LP collector’s set. And if you’re the kind of weirdo who still buys CDs, the 4-disc set will cost you $25 or so.
Those prices all make sense to me. But if you want to download the album as a set of digital files that you can keep on your own hard drive? That’s gonna cost you $50 for MP3s, or $70 if you want ’em as FLAC-HD files.
I recognize that $1 per song has become the standard in most digital download stores like iTunes or Amazon. But there’s typical a per-album price too. A standard LP is usually $10, even if it contains more than 10 songs. For a huge song batch (or, well, 53 versions of 12 songs) by a number of big-name artists, I could maybe even see charging $20 for the digital download; or at least, I personally wouldn’t bat an eye as I clicked “buy,” because I’m the kind of person who likes to buy digital music.
But $50? For digital music files? Are you fucking kidding me?
Oh, no, you’re not kidding me. Because you’re fucking Metallica, who upended an entire fucking industry of your greed over digital files. In that context, it makes perfect fucking sense.
The Metallica Blacklist