BIOHAZARD's BILLY GRAZIADEI: How Music Industry Could Have Been Saved
February 23, 2023
In a new interview with Ghost Cult, BIOHAZARD's Billy Graziadei discussed the perception that METALLICA's greed was at the core of the band's decision to launch legal action against Napster in 2000, claiming that the pioneering music file-sharing service was illegally allowing users to download METALLICA tracks without paying royalties to the group.
Speaking about BIOHAZARD's own approach to making and releasing music, Billy said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It was never about the money, and it still isn't about the money. But I remember when that whole shit [between METALLICA and Napster] happened. And I saw somebody wearing pretty recently a shirt that said 'Lars [Ulrich] was right'. When that shit went down with Napster, people got on him because he… [People were saying], 'You're selling tons of records. It's gonna help out the smaller bands and the up-and-coming bands', which had a validity to it.
"I remember spending four hours downloading a whole album on to my computer and then another four hours of trying to figure out how to put it on this little player," he continued. "I went down into a meeting in L.A. with my managers, Russell Simmons [Def Jam co-founder], Lyor Cohen [current Google and YouTube global head of music] [and] Scott Koenig… And I spent maybe eight hours trying to make this transfer. In the meeting, after we talked about BIOHAZARD, I asked him, I said, 'Lyor, what about this thing?' And he said, 'You mean those little players with the digitalized music?' I'm, like, 'Yeah.' [He said] 'Nobody cares about that. They wanna hold something. They like to hold their music.' And I'm, like, 'Yeah. You know what? I get it. The industry said the same thing about CDs, and they were wrong.'
"With the MP3s, my point was… This was, like, '93, maybe. I paid for my CD. I put the fucking BIOHAZARD record on my computer from this program, and then that program helped me put this on a player," Billy added. "So I bought one CD, and now I have two other copies. So there's three copies for one. I said, 'That doesn't work out for the music industry.' And his rebuttal was, 'Yeah, but people still wanna hold their music.' And it's true — vinyl's making a comeback. But if the music industry would have looked around the corner and saw the potential of damage that MP3s could have had, they could have bought out Napster and just paid them a fucking billion dollars and saved the music industry. Now you get a bunch of young bands, who I love finding these new bands, but they're trying to come up in an industry that's selling 90 percent less than it was 15 years ago."
METALLICA sued Napster after the band discovered that a leaked demo version of its song "I Disappear" was circulating on the pioneering music file-sharing service before it was released.
In May 2000, Ulrich famously delivered a literal truckload of paper to Napster Inc., listing hundreds of thousands of people who allegedly used the company's software to share unauthorized MP3s of METALLICA's songs.
METALLICA representatives compiled the more than 60,000-page list of 335,435 Napster user IDs over one weekend in response to Napster's promise to terminate the accounts of users who trade material without permission. Real names were not included in the list.
In later years, METALLICA embraced digital music: in December 2012, the band made all of its studio albums, as well as various live material, singles, remixes and collaborations, available on Spotify.
The reunited original lineup of BIOHAZARD — guitarist/vocalist Graziadei, guitarist Bobby Hambel, drummer Danny Schuler and bassist/vocalist Evan Seinfeld — will celebrate its 35th anniversary this year with a number of appearances at multiple international festivals in the summer of 2023, as well as select appearances in America. In addition to touring, BIOHAZARD has a 35th-anniversary documentary in the works containing previously unreleased footage spanning four decades. They also plan on returning to the studio to record new material.
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