Indie Labels

Metallica Prepping First Independent Release

Metallica2012photoThe famed rockers from Metallica are gearing up for their
first non-major label release – a live concert DVD / Blu-ray entitled “Quebec
Magnetic”, which will be released on the band's very own label in North America
(no name for the label just yet). The material for the video was filmed over
two nights in 2009 during the band’s Death Magnetic tour, and is due out on
December 10th. This marks yet another recent departure by a legacy artist from the major labels, as several others are beginning to fancy the independent route.


Metallica said in a statement:

“There are
still some i's being dotted and t's crossed, so we can't give you a name or
fancy logo just yet, but we're pretty excited that for the first time we get to
hold all the reins on a release from start to finish,” the band said on their website. “Since we now get to call all the shots, the double
DVD and single disc Blu-ray will be available for a price we thought was very
Metallica fan friendly – suggested retail will be $15.98 for either format.”

Metallica is following suit of several other legacy artists deciding
to leave the major labels and release music independently.

Just recently, Blink-182 announced a split from
Interscope, ending a 15-year relationship with Universal Music Group (back when
the band was first signed with MCA). Meanwhile, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler recently spoke to Billboard about going
the independent route as well. 

Contrastingly however, this all comes as the highly revered Trent Reznor decided to return to Columbia Records for the release of his How to Destroy Angels project. 

How Will The Majors Evolve?

While it is undeniable that all these legacy acts would not be where they are today without the prior support of their major labels, one has to acknowledge that it was a very different music business back then. It then leaves the question of what role the majors play (or perhaps should play) in today's music business. After all, the major label system, when executed properly, is a well-oiled machine that works incredibly well.

Are these famed artist's departures telling of a future where majors one day adapt to a revised philosophy of artist retention and development? Or are they destined to continue being banks for viable business partners (i.e. artists that will sell)?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

MORE: Upward Spiral #12: The Roles Of Major Labels Today 

Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Hypebot.com. Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud

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6 Comments

  1. Between this Metallica article and the Trent Reznor news what this says to me is there is no single path to the stadium anymore.
    If you do great stuff that people love, when it comes to the business side, you have the option to do it yourself, hire someone to do it for you or partner with label (indie or major).
    Those may have always been the choices but the concept of building/hiring your own team is much more realistic now.

  2. I’m not sure I see the irony you are seeing. They are still selling a product, they just get to use a lower price point because of fewer people in the middle.
    I think the free music and concerts on youtube.com/MetallicaTV is the irony you are looking for.

  3. I think the difference between Reznor and Metallica in this instance is rooted in the type of release they’re putting out (and their goals for said release).
    Reznor is trying to “break” How To Destroy Angels and capture a wider audience for his new band than he was able to reach via DIY the first time around. He needs global exposure and marketing muscle, so a major label makes sense.
    The Metallica project sounds like something only their existing fans would want — who else would buy a Live DVD from the tour of a middling album that came out 4 years ago? Metallica doesn’t need a big flashy marketing campaign for this release to be successful. They just need a solid D2F infrastructure. Given the financial benefits of the D2F approach, it makes a lot of sense for this DVD project to be released independently.

  4. The major labels and that system could be effective and still work as a postive force in the world, if they were not publicly held corporations. When a company has to answer to stockholders, all that matters is the short term, the quarterly projections and profits.
    Labels that are not traded on Wall Street will be looking at the long term, investing in artists and their mutally dependent futures, and have more room to think about artistic and innovation considerations.
    Just my 2 cents….

  5. Also, the lack of interest in the artist at major labels leads this end.
    Metallica should do this years ago.. but due to their contract hopefully they couldnt..
    Now they should be a little shame about suing Napster..
    On the otherhand, facebook/youtube/itunes and etc. Are worse than napster and filesharing years..
    Even you are a respected artist you dont get paid enough. All the collector societies, publishers made more than any artist around.. popular or non popular..
    Going independent could be good for major artists if they have enough money on marketing etc.
    In the past there were examples like Klf, mute records etc.
    They pressed their own records and made them distributed by majors..
    I think the most important thing is the distribution..
    Digital or physical.. right now the biggest distributor(!)is youtube. In my country Turkey, everyone knows for example PSY and the single “gangnam style” but we dont event have itunes in turkey..
    All is from youtube.. they listen youtube not watch..
    thats the new music format.. who cares the artist independent or major signed..

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