Avenged SevenfoldJeff Forney

Warner Bros. Records Vs. Avenged Sevenfold Lawsuit To Go To Trial In December


The Hollywood Reporter have shared a noteworthy look at the upcoming December trial between Warner Bros. Records and Avenged Sevenfold. If you’re unfamiliar with the current legal battle between the two parties, Avenged Sevenfold exited Warner Bros. Records while apparently still having one album on their contract. Amid their departure, the band exercised the California Labor Code’s ‘seven-year rule’, which allows for parties to exit contracts after a term of seven years if certain unfavorable conditions exist.

The band argued that turnover in the label staff had left them with an unsatisfactory working relationship. They have since went on to align with Capitol Records, with whom they released their latest album, “The Stage“, late last year.

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Warner Bros. Records launched suit against the band for breach of contract and are attempting to seek compensation for the potential lost profits of what the band’s latest album “The Stage” could have delivered if released under their watch.

The suit has the potential to set a new precedent when it comes to artists relationships with record labels and could see other artists with contracts older than seven years seek to jump ship, should the Avenged Sevenfold be successful in court. The band’s own frontman M. Shadows said of that:

“We’ve realized this battle is bigger than just us. We’re fighting so that all musical artists have the same rights everyone else has. It’s not like we wanted to be here, but we are down for the fight.”

The Hollywood Reporter speculate that the band are facing a verdict between $5 to $10 million USD in damages should they lose. It will be a bit of an uphill battle for Warner Bros. to successfully convince a jury that any lost profits from “The Stage” would have amounted to much however. The group chose to surprise release the effort rather than follow a traditional promotional cycle with advance notice and a lengthy buildup.

Not only did that surprise release have financial implications for the band (“The Stage” moved 76,000 units during its first week compared to the 163,000 units its 2013 predecessor “Hail To The King sold in its first week,) it could have also been somewhat of a boon when it comes to establishing the label’s character.

The group had initially enacted a deceptive plan that tipped “The Stage” for a then rumored December 09th, 2016 release. Shortly after, Warner Bros. Records announced that a best of set from the band, “The Best Of 2005-2013“, would arrive a week prior on December 02nd, 2016. The teased December 09th release was part of a ruse however and the band actually released “The Stage” on October 28th, leaving Warner Bros. with egg on their face.

The band themselves sought to block the release of that best of set, with Shadows calling it “childish on a whole new level” and an attempt to “undercut” the sales of “The Stage“.

That “The Stage” underperformed looks to be more ammo for the band as well. Their attorney Howard King told The Hollywood Reporter: “We believe a jury will conclude they can’t prove any damages,” adding that “The Stage” “has been a commercial disappointment. WBR would have lost money had that been delivered to them for marketing.”

Of course Warner Bros. Records could potentially argue that they would have dissuaded the band from the surprise release strategy, but it would all rest in hypothetical’s at that point.

Even so, Warner Bros. are going in guns blazing with a judge recently granting the label the right to assert claims from its worldwide affiliates in regards to the potential lost profits for the album, which The Hollywood Reporter note could double or triple the cost to Avenged Sevenfold should they not successfully argue their case. The label has also been allowed to seek attorney fees for the case, which thus far have amounted to more than $1.5 million.

Interestingly the band have enlisted noted industry analyst Bob Lefsetz to testify at the trial on their behalf and seem intent on in part poking a hole in the worth of record labels in the modern age where distribution has rapidly shifted to digital means and artist development has waned significantly, leaving marketing and promotion to be their most appealing services.

For more on the case, head over to The Hollywood Reporter.

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