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Metallica Make Peace With Digital Downloaders – Sort Of

After suing Internet file-sharing service Napster and contending with the marketing nightmares of digital downloading, Metallica are making peace with the enemy – sort of.

The band has partnered with Seattle DSL Online provider Speakeasy and developed www.metallicavault.com, a Web site that will contain hours of downloadable live recordings, demos and B-sides for free.

Here’s the catch: Fans have to purchase the band’s new album, St. Anger, to get a code that allows them access to the site. That should mean increased sales figures for the band, but consumers who buy the disc will get a lot of bang, chug and wallop for their buck. In addition to the 70-plus minute album, St. Anger comes with a DVD of all the songs from the disc being played live in the studio. And the first batch of free material on www.metallicavault.com will feature three full concerts – 66 songs in all.

One downloadable show is from June 17, 1994 at the Orange County Speedway in Middletown, New York, during the “Black Album” tour. Another is from October 6, 1996 at the Birmingham NEC in Birmingham, England, from the Load tour. The final concert is from July 4, 1998 at the Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, Ohio, from their tour behind Reload. Drummer Lars Ulrich handpicked each of the recordings, as well as many that will be posted on the site in the coming weeks.

“We’ve always wanted our fans to experience our music online,” Ulrich said in a statement. “But up until now, the existing distribution methods have not passed the kind of quality standards our fans have come to expect from us. We want the music that will be accessed on www.metalllicavault.com to be the best of the best available on the Internet.”

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