What happens when one of your biggest acts tries to leave the fold? Elektra Records may soon find out. In a move that will surely startle the record industry, megaplatinum metal masters Metallica say they have filed suit in a San Francisco court to get out of their multi-album contract with the label.
According to Metallica’s lawyer, Jody Graham, the band’s contract negotiations were almost complete when Elektra chairman Bob Krasnow abruptly departed the company in July. When he left, says Graham, Elektra ”reneged on the terms that Krasnow had agreed to.” The band’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, adds: ”We had a deal with Krasnow and they basically f—ed us out of that deal.” Ulrich says it came down to a matter of ”control over what happens to our records — to our masters as they’re called. We went to them and said, ‘We really want to be able to control these things so you guys don’t give them to a soup commercial or something.”’
Metallica signed with Elektra Records in 1984, and has since been a great success for the label (1991’s Metallica has been on the Billboard charts for 162 weeks and has sold 7 million copies). Elektra spokeswomen in both New York and Los Angeles declined to comment on the band’s actions.
Meanwhile, Ulrich says Metallica is ready to cut a new album, and landing a better contract is not what prompted the split. ”People have been asking ‘Is this because someone else is offering you a better deal?’ That’s not what this is about. Selling the amount of records that we do, getting a record deal is not going to be the hardest thing.”