It seems Mr. Lars Ulrich has been contradicting himself again, as he has stated in an interview with Rolling Stone it seems Metallica could be releasing their next full length album on the internet only; “We have that element of complete freedom with the next record, so we can do whatever we want. We could do an Internet thing or even put it on (American hockey player) Andy Greene’s record label.”
It was only a few years back though now when Lars was sueing the pants off Napster and generally not being very nice about the whole music/internet fiasco. Admittedly Napster was reponsible for the distribution of Metallica tracks for free via file sharing, but the point remains the same.
I don’t know whether it will be an ‘exclusive to iTunes’ style of online release or the Radiohead style where you ‘pay what you think it’s worth’. Metallica stand to make more money from the former, so that’s where my bet will lie.
There is no current plans for a new Metallica album as yet as the band as still touring on Death Magnetic. But when the band do hit the studio again we’ll see whether a) it does go online or b) how much they’re charging.