Warner Bros. Records Is Taking AVENGED SEVENFOLD To Trial Over Contract Dispute
When Avenged Sevenfold successfully released their new album, The Stage, it was the first release under a new partnership with Capitol Records. Avenged Sevenfold dissolved their relationship with their previous label, Warner Bros. Records citing a "seven year rule" put into California law in 1872 limiting the enforceable length of labor contracts, most notably with movie studios and actors.
The band were very unhappy with the turnover at Warner. In a statement earlier this year, the band’s attorney Howard E. King said that the label “underwent multiple regime changes that led to dramatic turnover at every level of the company, to the point where no one on the current A&R staff has even a nodding relationship with the band.”
In 1989, record labels were able to lobby a provision to the law allowing them to sue for damages if a musician left without fulfilling the required amount of albums on the contract. Avenged Sevenfold technically had one more album due to Warner, so Warner is taking them to trial. Wall Street Journal reports this "may be the first suit based on the statute to go to trial, slated for next year."
Coincidentally, Warner will try to use evidence of the success of The Stage as a metric for the amount of money they could have made to determine the damages incurred. Those sales could have been Warner's sales, they will undoubtably argue. But, the band's attorney strongly disagrees with that assessment saying there is no direct correlation because he believes Warner's marketing efforts would not have been as strong, throwing some serious shade at the label.
“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.”
Indeed, this could be a serious lawsuit in 2017. On the heels of Aveneged Sevenfold's new release, Warner Music will release a two disc Avenged Sevenfold greatest hits collection, The Best of 2005-2013, yet the release will come out without any input form the band on tracklisting or artwork. The band's attorney called the move vindictive, while M. Shadows commented in an interview yesterday that he learned about it just as the fans did when it was officially announced.
Needless to say, Warner is coming to collect. But Avenged Sevenfold are putting up a fight. It will be interesting to see if this goes to trial, or gets settled out of court beforehand. But it seems like Avenged has no interest in settling, and plenty of cash in reserves to fight Warner.