Formed in the early 1980s, Metallica has taken the heavy-metal genre to new heights of aggression and sophistication. Drummer Lars Ulrich and singer-guitarist James Hetfield started the band, which also includes guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. In the past four decades, the group has grossed more than $1.4 billion in concert tickets and sold over 125 million albums worldwide. \n\nEarly albums *Kill ’Em All*, *Ride the Lightning*, and *Master of Puppets* shook the metal scene and locked in a rabid fan base. The acclaimed *…And Justice For All* arrived in 1988—followed three years later by a self-titled record that helped launch the band to worldwide superstardom. After a string of successful releases during the 1990s, including the blues-inspired *Load* and the live orchestra recording *S\u0026M*, Metallica has continued turning out buzzy epics like *St. Anger* and *Hardwired… To Self-Destruct*.\nWhether you’re playing for a few close friends or a sold-out stadium crowd, it’s important to connect with your audience. Here’s how Metallica does it: \n\n- __Be honest__. Looking out at an arena filled with fans can be intimidating, even for rock stars. James struggled with shyness as a child and didn’t find it particularly pleasant to connect with crowds, but he’s learned to cope by being honest. “There are times when I’m out on stage, and I’m feelin’ a little [tired or grumpy], and I’ll just say that into the mic just to get it out,” James says. “And then it’s done. It’s gone. I’ve surrendered that. [I’ll say,] ‘Sorry, I’m not in the best of mood, but hopefully, you [guys will] get me out of that.’ And that works. It really does work. Just being honest [and] talking to the crowd like you’re one of them.” \n- __Borrow energy__. If you’re slumping, check the room for your most blissed-out audience member. “I will pick someone out that I know is just so full of energy and so giving,” James says. “I will just go to them, and I’ll borrow some of that energy from them that night. And that’ll give me a great reminder that, ‘Hey, what we’re doin’ is special. And this moment is special. That person is enjoying this. Why am I in a funk?’ You know. I’ll get outta that.” \n- __Change things up__. Devise some strategies to stay on your toes. For Metallica, this means switching up the setlist to ensure concerts don’t get stale. “We’ve tried for decades now to sort of screw with the configuration,” Lars says. “All of us try to get closer to more of the audience. When you play in the middle, instead of having one front row, we actually have four front rows… When you’re touring a lot, [it’s] not just changing the setlist, but really feeding off the fans and the energy coming back can really help you [when] you’re just doing [months and months] of endless touring.” \n- __Connect with your bandmates__. Just as important as your connection to your audience is your connection to your fellow musicians or band members. When they play “One,” there’s one part when Kirk likes to be near Lars. “I just love cozying up to him on the stage, just to play that part with him, regardless that there’s 60,000 people right here,” he says. “I just wanna get close to him and play that part because that musical connection, it reached into a really deep part of me. When that happens, I [open] up.”\nBecome a better musician with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Metallica, Tom Morello, Nas, deadmau5, Carlos Santana, and more.\nLooking out at an arena filled with fans can be intimidating, even for rock stars. With Metallica’s tips for performing on stage, learn how to connect with your audience.