Week Two: Planning and Movie Time

Apr 11, 2021

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!


4 Replies to “Week Two: Planning and Movie Time”

  1. Brett G. says:

    Asha, it is great how you found this documentary and used it as additional research for your project. It sounds very interesting and highlights the important relationship between bands and their record labels. I look forward to hearing more about your internship opportunities!

  2. Liam D. says:

    The relationship between the big record labels and the bands is a very important one, and you emphasize how these bands get the shorter end of the stick and how this is a problem for those who have less knowledge and experience in the music industry. It will be very interesting to see what other information and problems you will gather in the next few weeks.

  3. Elizabeth C. says:

    This documentary sounds fascinating, and I think it’s an interesting angle for your project. The music industry does seem to take advantage of new artists trying to get their start. Good luck with internships, looking forward to reading more!

  4. Jacob H. says:

    Really great job summarizing the documentary for us, 30 Seconds to Mars’ struggle with EMI certainly demonstrates the importance of business knowledge when navigating the music industry, regardless of artists’ potential as musicians. I look forward to seeing how the difference between major and independent record labels influences your research.

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