Metallica's rocking road to digital reinvention after 37 years in the industry

Metallica has been in the industry for 37 years and the band has consistently innovated and broken down barriers in its interactions with fans. Speaking at the opening of at Salesforce’s Dreamforce Summit 2018, drummer and founder of Metallica Lars Ulrich said that the band is “just getting started” on its digital innovation and journey.

Currently, Metallica has over 60 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube, and is one of the most “social” bands online. This has forced the band to keep up with changing times.

“In the past, we would put out records and there would be kind of like a formula [to the success] and it was always the same, no matter what year it was or what record it was. These days, when you put out a record, the release process becomes a creative process in itself,” he said. But two years ago, with the launch of its new album, Metallica realised it had to “start over” and “re-invent the wheels”.

“We always have to keep up with the trends and technology changes. Everything today is shrinking to your mobile devise […] In your phone now, there is streaming and social media and the practicality of buying concert tickets and experiences, it all starts with the mobile itself,” he added. Ulrich added that the band is looking forward to next Spring when it launches its European tour along with a new mobile app.

And of course, keeping in touch with fans is the bloodline of every musician. Ulrich said that in the past, every time the band got a fan letter, he would sit and answer each of them personally "with pen and paper".

"To me it was about connecting to people with the same musical appetite and connecting to something much bigger than yourself," he said. Today, in the era of digital, the band wants to carry on with the tradition.

As such, Metallica decided to integrate the Salesforce  platforms to transform the way it engages with its fans across every digital touchpoint. Ulrich added that during last year’s Dreamforce conference, he was particularly transformed when he saw Adidas fans were extremely engaged with the brand, with the help of Salesforce’s gamut of tools.

“I had a moment of clarity and I said to [Marc Benioff, CEO and founder of Salesforce], there has got to be a way of using Salesforce and take Metallica's fan engagement to the next level,” Ulrich said. One year later, with its partnership with Salesforce, Metallica is doing just that.

It is now deploying Salesforce Marketing Cloud to get a single view of fans across email, mobile and social media. This will allow the band to create personalised content and experiences for different types of fans, and deepen relationships with the entire Metallica family on social media. Metallica also launched its new website on Salesforce Commerce Cloud last month, which provides improved merchandising tools and functionality, as well as AI-powered ecommerce. This will make it easier to shop online, with exclusive access to tickets, content and merchandise highly curated for each and every Metallica fanatic.

“We see technology as a way to bridge the divide between us and our fans and bring them closer. That’s why we’re excited to be working with Salesforce to create new next level fan experiences," he added.

Salesforce paid for the journalist’s trip to Dreamforce 2018, held in San Francisco.