AVENGED SEVENFOLD has issued a statement regarding the lawsuit filed against the band by its record label, Warner Bros., for breach of contract. The suit seeks compensatory damages because the band is refusing to fulfill its agreement with the company. AVENGED SEVENFOLD has released four studio albums through the label but is seeking to exit its contract, while Warner Bros. contends that the group owes the company a live CD/DVD.
At the end of 2015, AVENGED SEVENFOLD notified Warner Bros. that they would not render services to the label, citing Section 2855 of the California Labor Code, which limits the duration of personal-services agreements to seven years — the so-called seven-year statute.
Said the band: “Few of the executives who have been integral to our continued success are still at [Warner], and we love and are grateful to them for their hard work. However, since we signed with the label, Warner Bros. has had three different regimes, multiple heads of marketing, and none of the senior management or A&R executives who were at the company and responsible for signing us are still there.
“Whatever the activity, it takes a full team to compete, and we no longer know most of our teammates.
“In the coming days, you may read about the lawsuit our label filed against us for exercising our legal rights, rights the State of California granted specifically to protect artists. You may see mistaken facts or worse. One such error we want to make sure you know about: AVENGED SEVENFOLD has never renegotiated its original recording agreement with Warner Bros. Records. Billboard has now corrected its story to reflect the real facts.
“Most importantly, we want our fans to know this: we are in the middle of writing a record we cannot wait for you to hear. We expect to go into the studio very soon, and look forward to releasing our new album later this year.”
AVENGED SEVENFOLD was originally signed to Warner Bros. for five albums, but the label apparently tried unsuccessfully to renegotiate the deal in fall 2015 to include a sixth album.
Under the seven-year rule, labels have 45 days to file legal action against the artist attempting to leave. AVENGED SEVENFOLD‘s letter announcing its departure was dated November 25, but the label claims it received the letter on November 30. The company filed suit against the band on January 8 — 39 days later.
Warner Bros. claims it has invested significant funds in the band’s future releases based on the belief that the contract would be upheld, and the sudden decision to opt out of the deal is a breach of good faith and fair dealing.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD is scheduled to begin recording its new album next month. Its previous two releases, 2013’s “Hail To The King” and 2010’s “Nightmare”, both topped the Billboard album chart. Each of their last five records has sold over 500,000 copies, with 2005’s “City Of Evil” moving over a million.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD is not the first hard rock or heavy metal act to seek an early end to its record contract on the grounds that the agreement had run for longer than the seven years allowed under California Labor Code Section 2855. Back in 1994, METALLICA sought to be emancipated from its recording contract with Elektra on similar grounds. Like AVENGED SEVENFOLD, METALLICA never renegotiated its original “baby band” deal signed with Elektra in 1984.
Section 2855(a) provides in relevant part that “a contract to render personal service … may not be enforced against the employee beyond seven years from the commencement of service under it.”
METALLICA settled its lawsuit against Elektra in 1995.