According to Biographers, Metallica Are in the Red, Losing Money Due to 'Disastrous Decisions'

Band have apparently lost more money than they've made since 2010.

Ultimate Guitar

They're one of the biggest selling bands of all times, but the latest statistics suggest that Metallica are in financial trouble.

In a new interview with literary website the Weeklings (via Supajam), Metallica biographers Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood have stated:

"Since 2010 it's likely that Metallica have lost more money than they've made."

The pair went on to elaborate that a number of misguided vanity projects have led to the band's current financial crisis:

"By their own admission, the two stagings of the Orion festival were disastrous financially, and the shambles that was the 'Through the Never' movie cost $32 million and will only recoup a fraction of that amount.

"Factor in HQ staff salaries, crew retainers and assorted running costs associated with maintaining an entertainment corporation and you can easily understand why the band - of necessity now rather than by choice - are driven to tour Europe every summer."

In particular, the pair believes that feature film "Through the Never" has contributed to the band's recent money woes:

"'Through the Never' film project was a horrible misjudgment, a misguided attempt to breathe new life into a decade-old idea. As the film spiraled horribly over-budget it's hard not to imagine that at least one band member - and let's be honest, we're talking about James Hetfield here - thinking 'What the f--k have we got ourselves into?' Quite how that 'script' ever got the green light is an unfathomable mystery."

Drummer Lars Ulrich had previously noted that he was unfazed by the financial disappointment of "Through the Never," stating that the band would make their money back in "t-shirt sales seven years down the line."

136 comments sorted by best / new / date

    hmmmm. Maybe they should release an album. That might work!?
    They make more touring than from album sales. Here's an interview with Kirk where he talks about how they'd like to tour less, but can't afford it: There was also one more recently where he said they feel obligated to keep touring to keep their massive staff employed. I don't know where that interview was, and can't find a link now. But, yeah. The money is in touring.
    Remember reading that The Grateful Dead fell into the same situation. They could not support their huge organization without constant touring. Lotsa mouths to feed....
    Same deal with the Dead. Jerry Garcia stated more than once that the pressure of having to support the road crew and their families, the office staff and their families and the band member families through constant touring was a big reason he dove into heroin to escape the pressure.
    It's not so much that making an album is the answer to all their financial problems. It's just that new material is the best way for a band to rekindle interest in their projects and efforts. If Through the Never came after a new album, or even came with some new material on it, I guarantee you that would've made it more interesting to fans.
    Absolutely!! I said that if that movie included 1 or 2 new songs, sort of the way S&M had Clover as a new track, it would have made tons more and gotten way more hype and interest.
    Legit question: What staff do they have for their organization as a rock band?
    tour managers, lawyers, roadies, tour design, graphic design, merch booth staff, security, mechanics, guitar techs, drum techs, lighting techs, merch designers, PR, etc.
    psychiatrist - in Metallicas case. the one they tried to fire but he didn't want to leave because he was getting paid heaps.
    A new album always drives up the hype machine though, you get advertising about "FIRST NEW ALBUM IN 7 YEARS", a new excuse to tour the world, license new songs for ads and whatever else, all that jazz.
    Weybl Himself
    Very true, but what better excuse to hit the road and hit it hard than a new album? Always manages to create a bit of hype and that extra night in a 15,000 seat arena is a nice little earner.
    Just get Lars to sell one of those child-like multimillion dollar paintings he collects, boom, done...
    Something to do with jamming out in Antarctica in a free gig, perhaps? Or at least, that kind of mentality. It might be better if they stop trying to be an entertainment corporation an go back to being a rock band, - or just chill out with the shitzillion dollars they've made.
    The Antarctica gig was sponsored by Coca Cola Zero. Just saying.
    'Sponsored' or 'paid for'???
    Well... that's how sponsoring works. Coca Cola pays Metallica all or part of the costs and they get their product name all over everything related to that gig for publicity.
    I know what sponsoring means... But you reposed my question: Did they pay for 'all of it' or just contribute so that they could get in on the publicity? The costs to the band would be very different.
    It's possible that only a part. I also think they lost money for that in the end, if that's what you want to hear. But as I said below, I don't think they are doing everything for money at this point in their career. They wanted to the first band to play in Antarctica, they wanted to make a movie, they wanted to collaborate with Lou Reed... all commercial failures but maybe they just honestly wanted it and they are not so hungry for money at this point in their career where they have their lives pretty much resolved financially.
    Agreed, they probably lost money... But I thought that's what they wanted to do... I thought they just did it for a laugh. Which is far more rock n roll than expecting to get corporate returns.
    They wanted to tour every continent. At this level in their career this is anyway a "minor" thing to do. They just did it to check that one of the list.
    Call me Naive but I don't think making more money is they're main motivation, sure its good for them to make some money but they have enough to invest it elsewhere and make a lot more. They do what they want when they want because they can, and they think (sometimes misguided) its what the fans want too.
    Just to see them on stage anymore is proof of this. They don't play with that same fierceness and fire that was there in the 80's and 90's, but it's not a bad thing. They actually look like they are truly having fun and happy to be on stage now. Do I think it's their BEST performance? No. I'm probably in the minority that thinks that part all came together and crescendoed in the late '90's post-Load, S&M, and Garage Inc. Watch Woodstock '99 and tell me different. However, even though The Unforgiven may lack that 1991 emotion when they play it live now, it still looks like the band truly enjoys being on stage. They are at a point in their career, that very rare point few bands ever get to, where they can do those things they want to do that make them creatively happy, even if there is a bit of a backlash or monetary loss. I don't understand why many still want them to act like they are still living the lives of 19 year olds.
    I saw on U.G. somewhere that this guy's sister's auntie was making like $20156 a day from home. They should look into that. Between the four of them, they could make enough to do a Through the Never sequel in a little over a year.
    If you look at their ages it's not hard to understand that they may be having a mid-life of sorts. Except instead of buying a sports car, they are going out and doing things like making a movie, jamming in Antarctica for free, or trying to do a festival like Orion. When you're one of the biggest bands of all time and money is feasibly not an issue, then it's easy to start blowing it on big projects and let the chips fall where they may. I think these guys are trying to do this kind of thing because realistically, there's a big chance Metallica won't be around in 10 years. The members have said that age is catching up to them, and, despite what the "br00talz" kids will say, they're playing very physical music. I have a feeling that they are making a last push for these projects.
    Yeah. They are doing things most other bands/ artists could only ever dream of. Who cares if they are not hugely successful or profitable. When they look back 30 years from now I can imagine them going, "Fuck yeah!" even though it was seemingly pointless. Sometimes its alright to do stuff for shits and giggles.
    If I did the same damn job for 30+ years, I'd start looking for new projects as well.
    This article seems to suggest that they're going to go bankrupt soon, but I doubt that'll happen. They're all still worth a good bit of cash. And I think that part of the problem with Through the Never was the price of a ticket to see it. I was going to go with the missus and a mate and it would've cost £45 for the 3 of us at a local cinema. If they'd kept it at the standard admission, I reckon they'd have made more from it. Also, surely bluray\DVD sales for it would've brought them back into the black? I thought it did quite well when it was released that way? I certainly bought it - it was pretty good too (not the disaster this article suggests) but only if you viewed it as a long music video\live gig, rather than as a feature film.
    Orion fest was amazing. I was a volunteer, and a lot of the staff said Metallica was losing money to put it on, but they wanted to do it for the fans anyways. Good for them, I say!
    Blame Napster. I think it's rather obvious their staff is too large and they need to downsize at this point.
    You can knock Lulu, Through the Never, and all the other side ventures Metallica tried, but the fact that they continue to think outside the box and risk a) losing fans plus b) losing substantial amounts of money says a lot about their artistic character and suggests that they aren't only in it for the money.
    That's an interesting point; companies that are only in it for the money tend to play it safe and give the crowd just what they want. Though, on the other hand; They're certainly not "just in it for the music"
    Yeah. IMO releasing an album like Lulu is a sign of not really caring that much about money - they would have been stupid if they had expected Lulu to be a commercially successful album. Actually even releasing Load and Reload was a sign of that - they knew they were going to lose fans because of that.
    Damaged Roses
    It actually says the exact opposite to me: how can they make more money without playing of releasing albums that much, because they don't seem to be that happy since many years ago.
    how do you know they are not happy. and re-read the article - its bullsht
    Years ago I worked for an investment banking firm and just for giggles I put in Metallica's HQ address at the time to see if there was a business located there (database called Hoovers) and it came back as "We're In It For The Music, Inc". That's all I needed to see. Oh and their wealth is managed by Prudential Asset Management Group, one of the best in the world so yeah, they're protected.
    "Since 2010 it's LIKELY that Metallica have lost more money than they've made." Doesn't sound like these biographers actually sat down and went over the accounting records when they throw around words such as "likely". I don't doubt that Through the Never and some of those festivals were money losers, but I also doubt that Metallica are in dire financial straits. Lucky for them, they are a band that sells merch by the boatload, their back catalog still sells well, and anytime they want to tour they sell out the venues.
    I doubt the biographers had access to the accounting records.
    Well, James and Lars did both say that they lost millions on the festival each year and even more overall on the movie. I do agree that there is very little to worry about as far as Metallica's financial security, however. These biographers sound like typical talking heads on any news channel, looking at quotes and ideas, and coming up with things that are "likely" and "possible".
    ^ thank you. the words were taken right out of my mouth. play a damn tour with supporting acts that others want to see as well. tada!! money to be made
    Come to think of it, have Metallica made one good business decision that wasn't "let's record an album" or "let's go on tour"?
    Considering they are worth about $460 Million collectively , I think they can afford to get into the red. James Hetfield - $175 Million Kirk Hammett - $70 Million Lars Ulrich - $200 Million Robert Trujillo - $15 Million On a side note - Jason Newsted - $40 Million Sources -
    Serious question: Do you guys think Metallica enjoys making music anymore? I don't think they do.
    I really don't think that they do either. Metallica hasn't seemed happy to play heavy music since the early 90's. I don't really expect much from the anymore but maybe losing money will motivate them to put out a decent album or two and tour a few more times before they completely run out of steam. Who knows.
    What was the story with that movie? I remember reading about it in UG articles and then stopped hearing about it. What actually was it? Was it in theatres? UG sure have a tendency to selectively talk about things, like months of articles about Muse Instagram photos in the studio, then complete radio silence when they dropped their new single.
    "Through the Never", the Orion Festival and the Antarctica gig were all cool ideas but they can't be surprised that they've lost money. Metallica REALLY needs to get back to basics... not only for themselves financially but for the fans that have supported them for well over three decades now. Put the extravagant vanity projects aside for a while and write and record QUALITY albums every couple of years and tour behind them. There are so many fans and potential fans that have been waiting for a LOOOONG TIME for Metallica to just be a great metal band again. They've gotta do it before they're literally to old to. Unfotunately, it might already be too late.
    Good lord! Is Metallica even a band anymore? These days, it seems like they're more of a business with a popular brand name that keeps shittng out merchandise they hope they can make a buck on. I mean, really? A line of skies? What the hell does Metallica have to do with skiing?
    I don't think they've tried to brand the skies, but more so skis. Gene Simmons on the other hand would love to be owner of "the officially licensed KISS sky".
    Bedside Shred
    They need to go on tour with Mastodon and Ghost or something, or quit dicking around put out a new album. People were talking about the Grateful Dead earlier and the main difference is that the Dead were musicians first entertainers by circumstance which I don't feel is the case with this band. The Dead were constantly putting out studio and love albums up until Jerry died and always working on new material to play live and such. They were not a play it safe band and Metallica is a cater to the metal mallrats band.
    Ohhh... that would be awesome. Give Ghost a full 60 minute set. They've always said they needed bigger venues to put on the kind of theatrical stage show they really want to, and a Metallica venue would provide just that.
    Metallica Through the Never Wikipedia Budget $18 million Box office $21 million They made money not lost
    They became money drunk and just don't have the motivation to work at it anymore. They have their hordes of sheep to buy whatever crap they put out so there's no reason to put any effort into creating new music.
    And people say that Metallica only care about the money...
    LOL He quotes Wikipedia.....Just that budget number is off by about 14 million, but no Wikipedia must be right..... Way to be a poser.
    Saying Wikipedia is unreliable without looking at the sources cited there in 2015 and calling someone a "poser". The result of the equation is approximately "brutal murder of your own credibility".
    Perhaps they should stop only playing shows in Europe. Metallica needs a full fledged US tour. I don't recall there being one since I went to the World Magnetic tour in 2009.
    As Maiden said, the touring money to be made is over in Europe. A full US tour cycle wouldn't net nearly as much as a few weeks of summer festivals and headlining shows in Europe.
    There hasn't been a full US tour since then, but Europe is where the big money is at for bands like Metallica. Festivals all summer long that people are going to regardless of seeing Metallica there 10-12 months before. Metallica's shows are expensive (for them) and some shows on the last US tour didn't fully sell out.
    I guess we have to distinguish money loss from a corporation perceptive not a private bankruptcy. Metallica has certainly an entity witch could be in red as we speak. -Project like the movie they made -Huge Cost of operation (touring, PR, website etc) -Employees -Orion festival -taxes and so on. On a personal level, they are probably far from being on the street. Now to save a company, you would need new products on the market, cut cost (yes indeed!) to adapt to your level of income...
    The Black Album sells roughly 2,000 units in America every week, alone. 100,000 a year - just in the USA. Surely there's got to be some LP income left for these guys?
    Not sure what their radio play figures are like in the US, but there's still bands who haven't released anything since the 80s that literally live off radio royalties.
    They could make a proper decent album again. Then I'd buy it. I've stop being their stuff after the Metallica album. Their newest stuff all sound shit. It's like their trying to do their good stuff with nu metal influence. Stick to what your good at guys!
    i guess you could say this news is....wait for it...sad but true! yes? no? no...ill see myself out
    I'm all for bands and musicians for trying new ventures in the name of creative expression, but there needs to be a line drawn at some point. Metallica has an established fanbase which means they have a reliable source of income. If you don't tap into that source directly, you won't get anything. If they stick to releasing an album and touring, I highly doubt they would be in a financial mess. I could imagine a conversation going like this: Accountant: You guys are losing money. Metallica: That is true. Accountant: Have you been working and doing your job? Metallica: Kinda, we've been doing different jobs. Or no work at all. Accountant: New jobs? Was it guaranteed income? Metallica: Well, no. Accountant: Obviously. You lost 32 ****ing million dollars! Go back to work guys...
    "They're one of the biggest selling times,"Come on UG, you're better than that. T-shirt sales Lars? Really? This isn't the 80's anymore you cocky ****!
    I saw them in 2011, and they had loads of merch and it was all selling out. Sure, it's not the 80s. People still buy merch, though.
    I've been looking around on the street and I have to say, the 80s are back. Just like the 50s, 60s, 70s and 90s really. All styles are blendable, trendy, and work well together with the 80s-typical mass consumerism that feeds the sweatshops some pennies.
    Dude, that's basically what post-2000 style is. A jumbled mess of the distinctive styles of the last several decades (obviously talking about the US here, and maybe parts of Europe).
    At $30+ per shirt you better believe they're making profits off those things
    The memebers in metallica have truck loads of money. They can do whatever the f*ck they want with it
    Remember Napster that time?
    There's always someone who brings up Napster, whenever wherever.
    AS well it should be a reminder that this "band" is nothing more than a business. Which is why the last 4 releases have sucked so much ass you woulda thought they were an outhouse.
    I find this hard to believe. It was just a little road bump. I mean come on, Hetfield is probably worth 200 million dollars
    when you're in the usa and want to see them live, go to vegas on may 9 and stop whining about how they never tour the usa... its not like all the festivals in europe are in my backyard. I have to travel hundreds of kilometers too to see them live!
    If they are loosing money, that just indicates they are doing what they want and not what pays off as they themselves suggest in interviews. They'll never run out of money anyway.
    metallica needs to stop trying to be dethklok. The consequences are real. Stop with the crazy s**t.
    Reduce the staff a bit, Major world tour with a three hour set - Play Master of Puppets top to bottom during, then the highlights. Problem solved. Of course, theres always that "sucky music" live streaming network - Lulu Plus...