Metallica rocks industry by dumping label after 28 years

Dec 3, 2012

Band's decision to ditch Warner Music and start own label is symptomatic of industry fighting for its life

Getty Images

ROCK band Metallica has ditched its record label after 28 years and taken the rights to all its albums with it, a move seen as yet another blow to the beleaguered record industry.

The band, which has sold about 53 million albums in the United States alone, has left Warner Music to start its own label, Blackened Recordings, says The Guardian. Significantly, it has also taken its entire back catalogue with it, so every Metallica album from 1983's Kill ‘Em All to 2008's Death Magnetic will soon carry the Blackened Recordings logo.

Frontman James Hetfield thanked Warner Music for "a fantastic relationship", but drummer Lars Ulrich said the band had no regrets about going out on its own.

"Forming Blackened Recordings is the ultimate in independence, giving us 100 per cent control and putting us in the driver's seat of our own creative destiny," Ulrich said.

Metallica is the latest big band to sever links with a major record label as artists react to a market transformed by digital technology and weakening music sales.

The US punk band Blink-182 split from its label Interscope – a division of Universal Music Group – in October and other big acts taking the independent route include Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, who turned their backs on their label in 2007 and released their album In Rainbows on their own website.

Madonna is another high-profile defector from Warner Music. The Material Girl left the label in 2007, signing a deal with the US concert promoter Live Nation that covered albums, concert tours and merchandise.

Metallica's departure will be a "major blow" to Warner, but shouldn't come as "much of a surprise to fans," writes Tim Grierson for "Especially in a climate when more and more bands are deciding they don't need major labels, it seemed almost inevitable that Metallica would take the plunge."

Sign up for our daily newsletter