According to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, Metallica uses city by city streaming data to help determine the band’s set list for their show in that city. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has said on numerous occasions that as the person who makes up the set lists for their shows, he looks back at past set lists and will vary up some of the deeper cuts based on what they’ve played in that city before.
In a 2017 interview with Baltimore’s 98 Rock, Lars discussed how he picks set lists:
I’ll sit and look at last couple times we played [in the area] — whatever city we’re in, I’ll look at the last 10 years worth of shows from that particular city. Obviously, there’s certain songs we ‘have’ to play, but then there’s the deeper cuts — and the deeper cuts I always try to vary. So if we played ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ the last time, maybe I’ll put in ‘Through The Never’ or ‘Breadfan’ or whatever. I try to vary six or eight of the deeper songs so you give fans a different set list and a different experience.
Now with the advent of streaming data Lars has another tool to use in deciding what to play. Daniel Ek told Quartz:
“You have an artist like Metallica, who changes their setlist on a city-by-city basis just by looking at Spotify data to see, which the most popular songs happened to be in that city. We’ve never before been at a place in time where you could make as many informed decisions and understand your audience as well as we can do now as an artist.”
Quartz did reach out to Metallica management firm Q-Prime to confirm this information, but has to yet to receive a response.
On a side note you may be thinking to yourself “Metallica using an online streaming service to their advantage? No way.” Well, even though Lars Ulrich had become the face of the music industry’s suit against the file sharing platform Napster at the turn of the century, Lars and Napster founder Sean Parker have since become friends and Lars even attended Sean’s wedding.
Metallica’s Worldwired Tour will kick off it’s next leg in Madison at the Kohl Center on September 2nd and will be in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center on October 16th.