The New Metallica Tribute Album Costs $50 to Download

It's for charity, but "The Metallica Blacklist" is rather pricey

James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich of Metallica perform during the "S&M2" concerts at the opening night at Chase Center on September 06, 2019 in San Francisco, California. A cover of Metallica songs is currently selling for $50, which is pricier than expected.
James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich of Metallica performing in 2019
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Black Album, Metallica has curated a massive 53-song tribute album called The Metallica Blacklist which features a slew of artists — including Phoebe Bridgers, Miley Cyrus, St. Vincent, Weezer and Elton John — covering their favorite tracks from the classic 1991 record. But the price of the Blacklist album has some fans scratching their heads.

The 7-LP vinyl box set retails for about $150, which is pretty standard for something like that, and the 4-CD version goes for a reasonable $25. But the digital download price is outrageously high: the MP3 version will set you back $50, and the FLAC-HD files go for a whopping $70.

To be fair, all of the proceeds are going to charity. (“All profits will be donated to charities of each contributing artist’s choice along with Metallica’s own foundation, All Within My Hands,” the band’s website clarifies.) That perhaps explains it to some degree, but $50-$70 for a product that doesn’t even have a physical component is a little hard to swallow. Yes, you’re getting 53 songs instead of a traditional album length, but in a world where digital downloads of records typically cost around $10, $50 seems excessive. (Stereogum’s 55-track Save Stereogum covers compilation, for example, can be purchased for $21.50.)

Of course, Metallica has a highly publicized history of not being particularly thrilled with digital downloads. In 2000, the band famously sued Napster for copyright infringement, which encouraged other artists to follow suit and ultimately led to the peer-to-peer file-sharing network filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidating its assets.

If you want to get a better sense of what $50 will get you, you can check out the trailer for The Metallica Blacklist below.

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