Hi again, everyone! This week I decided to watch a documentary for some additional research while I was still planning out how I want to approach research for this project. The documentary I decided to watch is called Artifact, it came out in 2013 and was directed by Jared Leto. The film follows Leto’s band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they learn their label, EMI, is suing them for a $30 million breach of contract lawsuit after the band attempted to exit their contract due to revenue disputes. The documentary offered a lens into the stressful situation Thirty Seconds to Mars had found itself in.
Despite bringing in millions of album sales, Thirty Seconds to Mars was still $1.4 million in debt to EMI. They realized weren’t able to pay them back because they also had received no revenue from their album sales. So in August 2008, the band attempted to sign with a new label. Thirty Seconds to Mars argued that under California law, the band could not be bound to a contract for more than seven years, as they had been contracted for nine. This prompted EMI to then sue them for $30 million, arguing that the band was trying to leave the label before producing the three records required by their contract. The band could either resign with the label under a similarly terrible contract or fight the lawsuit and risk losing and being $30 million in debt to EMI.
The Thirty Second to Mars’ story is a perfect example of a young naive band being screwed over by their record label, due to their limited knowledge regarding the business side of the music industry. A large part of the documentary focused on Leto and his strong urge to become an independent group and fight the lawsuit to avoid another atrocious contract. In the end, the group put enough pressure on their label, and they ended up signing a significantly better deal with EMI. Because of the way the film pushed this progressive independent artist path, this ending was extremely disappointing, however, the film was able to give a detailed look into the dying music industry and highlighted many points I mentioned in my Prior Research section.
Hopefully next week I’ll be able to finally get a plan out to show you guys, and I’m still working on landing potential internships, so we’ll see what next week brings us. Thank you!