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Metallica Joins Spotify After Years of Fighting Against Peer-to-Peer Sites

Metallica James Hetfield Live - H 2012
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Drummer Lars Ulrich appeared at a New York press conference with Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek to explain why the group decided to be part of the music streaming service.

Metallica, a band that for years fought to keep its music off peer-to-peer sites, has agreed to allow their entire decades-spanning catalog to be freely available on Spotify.

Formed in 1981, Metallica has released nine studio albums, all of which have gone platinum, as well as four live albums. Their last five releases, beginning with 1991's "Metallica," have debuted atop the Billboard 200.

The surprise announcement was made Friday by Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek at a New York press conference. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was on hand to explain why the band had warmed to the on-demand music streaming service.

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"We wanted to see what were the best options out there" for distribution, Ulrich said. "Spotify has really solidified itself as not only the leading streaming service but pretty much the only one. We were ready to jump as soon as we took control of our own masters."

In a moment suggesting that digital music had come full circle, Ek also invited Sean Parker, formerly of Napster and now a Spotify investor, on stage with him. Metallica had sued Napster a decade ago for facilitating the distribution of pirated copies of the band's music in a high-profile battle in which both parties emerged with bruised reputations.

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But in the discussion that took place on stage with Ek, Ulrich and Parker publicly buried the hatchet, with Parker saying they "were more alike than different," and Ulrich complimenting Napster as being "smart."

Also at the event, which was livestreamed, Ek announced that Spotify now has more than five million paying subscribers, one million of whom are in the U.S., where the four-year-old Swedish service launched just a year ago.

The Q&A session was followed by another surprise, a 10-minute performance from Frank Ocean -- who scored six Grammy nominations last night -- with a full band.

Read more on the event at Billboard.biz.