When artists get into a situation when their life feels like it is out of control, how much blame should be levied at management or band mates?
Sometimes a simple conversation over coffee can change things. Sometimes, a simple question, “are you okay?” could change things. But people need to ask those questions like the band mates.
But without good managers, it’s an uphill struggle to world domination. And you don’t get good management if you are not making money. So in order to keep the good managers, you need to be making money.
And Metallica is a worldwide cultural phenomenon. I was at a fundraiser last night for Beyond Blue, a Call centre which deals with mental health and a guitar signed by the Metallica members was the highest auctioned item.
And the people who in most cases start the downward spiral are the main people, like James Hetfield.
If Hetfield wants, he could really fire all of the other band members and it will still be Metallica. He is the riff meister, the singer and the lyric writer (well ignore that album called “St Anger” when others were made to contribute lyrics because a life coach said so and because the main writer wasn’t really interested).
So is it any wonder that James Hetfield is back in rehab. The reality is, without James Hetfield, Metallica cannot tour. And if they cannot tour, they don’t make money. And if they don’t make money, band members and management don’t get paid. So they tour, until something breaks.
But Metallica is a corporation, a business, with employees. It needs to roll on.
The band owns all of their masters, so they negotiated favourable license and royalty deals with streaming services.
A movie is released about S&M 2. They will eventually license that to streaming services and DVD/Blu-Ray replications.
They form partnerships.
Metallica with Billabong for a special run of surf clothing. Metallica with a football sporting team for a special run of jerseys with the Metallica logo. Metallica watches. Metallica whiskeys. Metallica with lipstick and nail polish companies. Metallica mugs, glasses to drink from and glasses to put on your eyes. There are other licensing deals with other companies to have their T shirts in various stores around the world.
But the main person is in rehab. And until they fix that, they are in trouble.