Recorded music, artistes
Avenged Sevenfold surprise announcement of the arrival of their seventh studio album, on Vivendi SA’s Capitol Records, after playing several songs on the roof of Capitol’s circular building in Los Angeles that was streamed online via a virtual reality app, may have come as some surprise to their former; record label, Warner Music Group, who sued the band earlier this year in California state court for breach of contract after the band left the label without delivering the final album that was apparently due under that deal.
The Wall Street Journal says the battle centres on provisions in California’s state labor law that prevents contracts for “personal service” – and that includes recording artistes, actors and athletes – from extending beyond seven years, but also explicitly permits record companies to sue acts for damages if the departing artiste fails to deliver the agreed-upon number of recordings during that time. Warner Music’s case against Avenged Sevenfold seems to be the first such suit claiming damages.
The surprise release of the new album, titled “The Stage,” by a rival label ahead of the trial could be a welcome development for Warner Music, as it will test the band’s current selling power and could give an indication to the trial judge of what the appropriate damages in the case might be should Warners prevail. However, Howard King, an attorney for Avenged Sevenfold, said the sales of “The Stage” shouldn’t be used as a guide because the results could have differed widely under Warner Music’s approach to production, marketing, promotion and sales. “We don’t know what Warner could have done with an Avenged album other than screw it up,” Mr. King said. “These are two completely different companies.”
After releasing their first two albums independently, Avenged Sevenfold signed with Warner Bros. Records in 2004 to deliver up to five studio albums, according to the complaint the label filed in January. Between 2005 and 2010 the band delivered four studio albums for the label, selling more than 8 million albums world-wide to date.
Last week, Warner Music announced plans to release a two-CD Avenged Sevenfold collection called “The Best of 2005-2013,” without consulting the band on artwork or track selection Mr. King said. Mr. King called the move “the height of vindictiveness.”