At A Glance
Metallica is a major heavy metal band signed to Warner Bros Records. They are arguably the biggest band in the world right now, having sold over 52,000,000 records to date in the US alone. After being around for 28 years, Metallica has adapted to the internet age and is at a unique place in their career where their focus is not gaining new fans, but managing the millions of existing fans.
Metallica's online presence is marked by individual websites for each "facet" of their Metalliuniverse. The main site is fairly simple, very straightforward and well organized - you can find anything within a couple of clicks. Once cool thing is that you can choose the "skin" of the whole website based on the Metallica album you like the most. All media (CDs, DVDs, videos, photos, etc) can be bought/downloaded with a couple of clicks at any time, and you can find the full range of their merchandise and more on the Metallistore, which offers all kinds of Metalligear from t-shirts and baby bibs to wrapping paper and bar stools.

Upcoming tour dates can be found on the main website, but if you want to know about any tour-related info, you have the option to be directed to MetOnTour, where you'll find dates, info, pictures, a tour journal written by the band, and a forum you can write in.

If you decide to join the MetClub, their fan club, you will find a huge community of worldwide fans who share your passion for this band and their music (after paying a annual fee of $40.00). Fan club members get the FanCan, a can with signed posters, unique t-shirts and more stuff. Club members also get 4 issues of "So What!" every year, a hard copy magazine full of Metallica-related news, letters from the band and signed posters. Metclub Chapters run by Metallifans exist all over the world (in over 20 countries). You can join your local chapter for free or start your own chapter if you want.

One of Metallica's greatest moves into the digital era, especially after the Napster debacle, is that they sell the audio recording of every single show they do (both in MP3 and FLAC) on the Live Metallica website. You can purchase the audio and they provide you with a booklet, CD artwork and jewel case, so you can "assemble" your album at home if you want. They also have a "vault" section in which you can download shows from their entire career, since 1983, for free. Live Metallica offers all of this and more, including the ability to order set lists, and ticket stubs.

Metallica is always adapting to new forms of marketing to keep their existing fans enthralled while at the same time attracting new fans to their legacy. Most recently, the band has put their name on a signature edition of the hit video game Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero Metallica allows you to play your favorite Metallica songs as animated members of the band itself, as well as songs from 20 other bands that have collaborated with or been inspired by them. It also features tons of "Metallifacts" that come directly from the band to give you deep access to the world of Metallica. When you pre-order the game, it comes with a second bass drum pedal that allows you to play double bass drums like Lars Ulrich on songs like "One" and "Fight Fire with Fire" to get the ultimate Metallica playing experience. You can also collaborate with your friends over the internet or battle other groups to see who is the best Guitar Hero Metallica rockstar.

With their latest album, "Death Magnetic", the band took a new step in their relationship with fans. Fan club members (of which I am now one!) ordering tickets for Metallica's live shows received an "e-voucher" they could redeem to have the new CD mailed directly to their home for no charge. Fans also received more "e-vouchers" to download a video recording of the live show they went to see - again, free of charge.

Metallica has not only evolved musically over their 28-year career, they have also evolved in terms of their image and brand. The band has introduced a new logo and brand multiple times, their most recent one being that from "Death Magnetic". As former Advertising Agency CEO Mike Tunnicliffe puts it, "First, in good brand-management style, the Metallica ID has been revamped with a new logo, a "signature" typographic style and a brand kit that incorporates logos, imagery and graphics, as well as promotional items including a flag, a coffin-shaped special edition album [box] and a vinyl boxed set.” Metallica's habit of revamping their brand helps keep it fresh and increases their "brand stickiness".
In Conclusion
By adapting to the new age of music marketing, Metallica has been able to stay at the top of the business and prolong their status as the biggest band in the world. Metallica will surely continue to adapt and overcome. They will never die!
This case study was written by Álvaro Kapaz and Tim Woo, students at Berklee College of Music.

Álvaro is Treasurer of Berklee's music business club, a Film Scoring and Music Business dual major and guitarist with an upcoming personal endeavor, Project K-Paz. You can connect with Álvaro through his blog or via email: alvarokapaz [AT]

Tim is a Professional Music major studying music business and drum performance. You can connect with Tim through Twitter or via email: twoo [AT]


  1. Good study, especially linking to the Napster incident that brought them so much bad press. They are truly innovative, in the sense that they have adapted over time to the changes in the music business.

  2. Really nice.
    I love the live database... and the fact that you can download the show that you just saw to re-experience it! Fantastic!