Metallica’s future with its record label, Warner Bros. Records, may not extend past the release of the latest album Death Magnetic. Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of the Warner Music Group, declined to comment on the status of contract negotiations with Metallica. The latest Metallica album, Death Magnetic, was the band’s last under its current contract with the label, which dates back to 1984 when Metallica first signed with Warner subsidiary Elektra Records.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich told that finishing out its recording contract was a liberating experience for Metallica: “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.”
Warner Brothers, the third-largest record company in the world, is now the only one of the top four to be publicly traded. The company recently lost one of its biggest artists, Madonna, after more than 20 years. She signed a 10-year deal in October valued at more than $100 million with concert promoter Live Nation Inc. that covers touring, merchandise, videos, TV and films and new recordings.
According to Lars Ulrich, Metallica is looking for possibilities other than the 360 deal with Live Nation: “Mmm, we’ve never sold ourselves that way. No disrespect. We want to be as free a players as possible. We’ve been observing Radiohead and Trent Reznor and in twenty-seven years or however long it takes for the next record, we’ll be looking forward to everything in terms of possibilities with the Internet. And as far as the next record goes … You know, this is our last record under contract with Warner, so we’re looking at how we can embrace everything.”
The answer might be Metallica’s management firm Q Prime. Q Prime has just launched its own record label called Mom&Pop Music Company. Based at Q Prime’s New York offices, the label will be helmed by Michael Goldstone and distributed via RED.
“In continuing Q Prime’s legacy of building careers, we’ve decided to make the long term commitment to add recorded music and publishing to our family, hence Mom&Pop,” says Q Prime’s Cliff Burnstein. “Our ambition is not to be ‘indie’ or ‘major.’ Instead, we are striving toward what would now be considered a boutique label, taking our inspiration from great historical music companies like A&M, Chrysalis, Sire and Island - labels that maintained the best balance of cultural importance and commercial appeal.”
“The freedom you have as an independently owned music company is empowering,” says Goldstone, who exited his position as President of Sire Records in May 2008 to join Q Prime. ”With that comes the responsibility of building successful careers with your artists while
maintaining their trust and integrity.”
Metallica has had a longstanding relationship with Q Prime managers Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch. This is what Metallica’s Lars Ulrich recently said about their relationship:
“I’ve never been in another band other than Metallica and I’ve never, apart from Johnny Z and god bless him, we’ve never had any other managers other than Cliff and Peter. So I could never picture being or working with anybody else, it would seem way too odd. Both of them are among my best friends, when we come to New York we’ll go to the movies or go to dinner, hang out…it’s very chill and super cool.”
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