Rebels with a Cause: Metallica’s Stand Against Overpricing with ‘$5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited

Jennifer Moritz

To most young fans today, Metallica might just be those old rockers who popped up on The Simpsons or the guys who took on Napster in that infamous lawsuit. It’s easy to see them as the quintessential “greedy rock stars” of the digital age.

But there’s a side to Metallica’s story that doesn’t get enough airtime—a time when they actually went to bat for their fans against overpriced albums. Enter The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited, Metallica’s cheeky middle finger to music industry greed.

This little record wasn’t just a collection of cover songs; it was a statement, a pledge to keep music affordable.

Background: Rising from the Ashes of Tragedy

In the mid-80s, Metallica was on the verge of breaking big. They had already made waves with their raw, thrashing sound, capturing the hearts of metalheads worldwide.

But the sudden death of bassist Cliff Burton in a tragic accident in 1986 threw the band into turmoil. At a time when they were supposed to be celebrating their rise, they were instead mourning a friend and figuring out their next moves.

The music industry, ever hungry for profits, was relentless. Despite their grief, Metallica faced pressure from all sides not to let their growing momentum slip. It was the classic rock and roll predicament: the machine doesn’t stop, even when the artists need a moment to breathe.

In this high-pressure scenario, the band made a pivotal decision—they wouldn’t rush into the next big project. Instead, they’d ease the new bassist, Jason Newsted, into the fold with something less intense, less polished.

This idea morphed into an EP of cover songs, a nod to the music that had inspired them. Metallica wanted to go back to basics, to the rawness and simplicity of jamming in a garage.

This wasn’t just about making music; it was about healing and staying true to their roots amidst the chaos of sudden fame and personal loss. The result was a garage band vibe that felt more like hanging out and less like a high-stakes recording session.

It was an act of defiance, too—a way to push back against an industry that often seemed to care more about cash than creativity.

The $5.98 EP: Concept and Creation

The concept for The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited stemmed from a desire to hit the reset button and reintegrate as a band after Cliff’s death. The idea was simple: cover a handful of songs that had influenced them throughout their careers, tunes from bands like Killing Joke, Budgie, and the Misfits.

This project would be less about perfection and more about the sheer joy of playing music together. The ‘garage band’ feel was essential—not just a stylistic choice but a nod to their beginnings, a way to reconnect with their roots in the most literal sense.


Recording the EP was intentionally low-key. They set up shop in a garage, truly capturing the gritty, spontaneous vibe of a jam session. Over just six days, Metallica blasted through rehearsals and recording, treating the process as a therapeutic escape rather than a major studio undertaking. There were no fancy tricks or overproductions—just raw, unfiltered music that was as much for them as it was for their fans.

By keeping the project a low-budget affair, Metallica made a pointed statement about the music industry’s tendency to inflate prices. The EP’s title itself was a playful yet pointed jab at record labels and retailers known for marking up prices: The $5.98 EP. This wasn’t just a random figure; it was a direct command to retailers and a promise to fans about what they should expect to pay—no more, no less.

Metallica’s approach with this EP was revolutionary for its time. It underscored their commitment to music and fans over profit, a stance not commonly taken in an industry often criticized for its greed.

The band was clear: this was about music, about heritage, and about being true to themselves and their fans. They were setting their own rules, challenging norms, and doing it all on their own terms.

Industry Reaction and Marketing Strategy

Metallica’s unorthodox approach to the release of The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited initially took the industry by surprise. Label executives and music retailers were accustomed to capitalizing on the hype surrounding big releases, especially from bands as meteoric as Metallica.

However, this EP was anything but typical. It was an audacious move; a bare-bones production intended as a straightforward, honest offering to the fans, not as a major profit-turner.

The Small Hours (Remastered)

The marketing of the EP was straightforward and carried a clear message against price gouging. Metallica insisted on a retail price of $5.98, reflecting the band’s desire to make the music accessible to as many fans as possible without the inflated costs often tacked on by middlemen.

To reinforce this, the original vinyl release featured a sticker that boldly stated, “DO NOT PAY MORE!!!“—a direct command that served as both a consumer warning and a challenge to retailers tempted to overcharge.

This strategy was a blend of savvy marketing and genuine consumer advocacy. It resonated deeply with fans, who saw it as a refreshing break from the norm and a sign that Metallica was a band that cared more about its listeners than lining its pockets.

The sticker itself became a symbol of Metallica’s commitment to fairness, a reminder that they were in this together with their fans against the often predatory practices of the music industry.

Moreover, the EP’s release strategy highlighted Metallica’s savvy understanding of their own brand and their fans’ expectations. They knew that even an album of covers, rushed and roughly produced, would be eagerly received by their loyal audience.

Metallica - The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited (Original/Remastered) Unboxing

In a way, it also tested the waters for future releases, showing that fans valued the music and the gesture more than high production values or slick packaging.

In sum, Metallica’s handling of The $5.98 EP not only circumvented potential exploitation by external parties but also solidified their image as a band of the people. It was a strategic move that managed to keep everyone happy—fans got new music at a fair price, and the band maintained their integrity, proving that their anti-establishment ethos was more than just talk.

Fan and Market Response

The release of The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited was met with enthusiasm from Metallica fans and music enthusiasts alike. The low price point and the band’s clear stance against overpricing struck a chord with a wide audience, reinforcing their image as a band that truly cared about its fans.

This approach not only drew praise for its fairness but also deepened the loyalty of Metallica’s fan base, who appreciated the band’s efforts to keep their music affordable and accessible.

Metallica-Garage Days1987 Re-Revisited E.P(Album)+Info/HQAudio✔

The EP itself became a collector’s item, cherished not just for its musical content but also for its role as a statement against corporate greed in the music industry. Fans and collectors sought out original copies, particularly those with the iconic “DO NOT PAY MORE!!!” sticker, which symbolized the band’s commitment to fairness. This sticker, simple yet bold, turned into a rallying cry for fans who were tired of being exploited by inflated prices in the music market.

Critically, the EP was received as a raw and authentic piece of music, capturing the spirit of Metallica’s early days. Reviewers noted the gritty sound quality and the straightforward delivery of the cover songs, which many saw as a refreshing return to the basics of rock and heavy metal.

Metallica - The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re Revisited Full Album (HQ)

The choice of songs and the manner of their execution spoke volumes about Metallica’s roots and influences, offering fans a glimpse into the band’s musical journey and inspirations.

The positive reception of the EP also had a ripple effect on the music industry, prompting discussions about pricing strategies and artist-fan relationships. Metallica’s stance influenced other artists and bands to consider similar approaches, highlighting the power musicians have over their work’s market positioning and the ways they can advocate for their fans’ interests.

In the larger scope of Metallica’s career, The $5.98 EP served as a bridge between their earlier, more raw productions and the polished releases that would follow. It reassured fans that despite their rising fame and the inevitable changes that come with it, Metallica remained committed to their roots and to the principles that had propelled them to stardom. This episode in their history not only solidified their standing as music industry rebels but also underscored their role as pioneers in artist-fan advocacy, proving that their anti-establishment ethos had real substance and impact.

Conclusion: Echoes of Defiance

The story of The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited offers more than just a glimpse into Metallica’s creative process or their knack for stirring the pot. This episode from their illustrious career serves as a profound reminder that Metallica, often cast as the villains in the saga of music’s digital revolution, have also played the role of champions for their fans.

By boldly sticking a price tag that screamed fairness directly on their EP, they not only took a stand against industry greed but also cemented their legacy as a band that genuinely cares about its audience.

This act of defiance against overpricing didn’t just resonate at the moment; it has continued to echo throughout Metallica’s career, influencing how they approach everything from album releases to concert pricing.

Metallica: James' New Guitar from the "Garage Days"

It’s a narrative that challenges the simpler, more negative image often painted of them in the wake of the Napster controversy, suggesting a more complex and principled stance towards the music business.

Moreover, The $5.98 EP underscores a pivotal lesson in music history—artists have the power to shape the industry not just through their music, but through their actions and their relationship with fans.

Metallica’s decision to keep the EP affordable was a statement about values, one that reverberates through the music world, reminding both consumers and creators of the power of integrity in an industry fraught with exploitation.

As we look back on this chapter of Metallica’s journey, it serves as a vibrant call to action for modern musicians and bands. It shows that even small gestures, like setting a fair price, can have a lasting impact on how fans perceive and support their favorite artists.

It’s a call to remember that in the business of music, transparency and fairness can coexist with success.

Reflecting on The $5.98 EP not only enriches our understanding of Metallica but also invigorates the ongoing conversation about artist autonomy and consumer advocacy in the music industry.

It’s a reminder that, sometimes, true rebellion comes in the form of a sticker on an album cover, telling the world that some things are more important than profit.