A pair of questions: If you’re Edgar Bronfman, do you pay through the nose to keep Metallica, just to temporarily halt the parade of artists leaving the company? If you’re Metallica, do you sign the paper, cash the check, and stick it out with Warner’s sinking ship or go out on your own with crazed pricing and delusions of grandeur?
According to Bloomberg.com, Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of the Warner Music Group, of which Warner Bros. Records is a division, declined to comment on the status of contract negotiations with the band during a quarterly conference call earlier this month. The new Metallica album is the band’s last under its current contract with the label, which dates back to 1984 when the quartet first signed with Warner subsidiary Elektra Records.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich told us that finishing out its recording contract was a liberating experience for the band: “It’s awesome. I mean, to be out of your record contract, it’s exciting just because of, what are the new — and that’s not anything disrespectful about the great bunch of people up at Warner Bros. Records. But it’s just exciting to be able to communicate directly with your fans, and having the opportunities to do it, you know. I think that’s really exciting.”
Maybe the band will make money off the Mission: Metallica model now, but at some point, will the most crazed members of its fanbase tire of being milked for cash? Lars seems to have forgotten that the reason the band signed with Elektra ages ago wasn’t to connect with the fans, it was to get paid–and if no one’s willing to cough up cash for their new material, clearly the best place to be is at a major label.