Sued for 30 million dollars, Thirty Seconds To Mars versus EMI, a documentary called ‘Artifact’


To find yourself just look inside the wreckage of your past
To lose it all you have to do is lie

– “R-Evolve”, A Beautiful Lie

The music industry, we all know there is this veneer, a very thin facade, presented to the World, and then there is the truth beneath, lurking, deemed by some to be a necessary evil, by others to be ‘just the business’, immutable, omnipotent and voracious.

Thirty Seconds to Mars is an American Rock Band1 composed of brothers Jared and Shannon Leto, and rounded out to a three piece by guitarist Tomo Miličević. Fresh off of a two year tour for their extremely successful sophomore release, A Beautiful Lie, they returned to Los Angeles to record a third album and document the process on film2 …only to find themselves in the middle of a war.

Thirty Seconds To Mars had sold well over 3.5 million copies of A Beautiful Lie and, when they inquired about their royalties, discovered they were not going to paid a dime and, in fact, they were still in debt to EMI for nearly three million dollars. Thirty Seconds To Mars approached EMI wanting to either revisit the contract or be released from it. In response, their own record label sued them for 30 million dollars, essentially telling Jared, Shannon and Tomo to shut up and record.

Faced with this insanity, they made the decision to stand their ground and fight.

From that moment on, the documentary became something else, it became Artifact.

Time to escape
The clutches of a name
No, this is not a game
It’s just a new beginning

I don’t believe in fate
But the bottom line, it’s time to pay
You know you’ve got it coming

This is war

– “Escape”, This Is War

Artifact is, as the name suggests, a witness to an historic event, the transformation of EMI, and the making of an album, This Is War, both from the band’s uniquely privileged perspective. It includes a very accurate, clear explanation of how the music industry really works and insights from former employees of the upper echelon at EMI as well as more than a few industry insiders, like journalist Neil Strauss and musicians, Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls, accomplished solo artist), and Damian Kulash, lead singer of Okay Go, not so coincidentally, a former Capital/EMI band as well.

You do not have to be a fan of Thirty Seconds To Mars to watch this documentary. It is invaluable as a behind-the-scenes window into the inner workings of a major music label during the economic downturn and the thoughts and opinions on the past and the future of the music industry from the interviewees.

Fans will enjoy this candid look at one of their favorite bands and will be able to see not only the birth of This Is War, but the genesis of the recently released fourth album Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams.

Everyone who watches this will gain a new respect for this trio. In the face of adversity, Jared, Shannon and Tomo never give up and create what I consider is their best album to date.

Whether you are a fan, newly inspired musician looking to make it big, or just an industry insider, I highly recommend this documentary, it is a ‘Must See’.

Artifact is available for purchase on DVD from VyRT and available for download in the iTunes store (this is the US link, but it is available basically worldwide, check your iTunes store).

Thirty Seconds to Mars on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Artifact on Facebook and Twitter.

The band members are also very active on social media platforms:

Jared Leto: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Shannon Leto: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Tomo Miličević: Twitter Instagram

Two things of note:

1) Placing a musical group or performer into a specific genre is a tricky thing, the best option is to go with their personal classification.

At this past years’ I Heart Radio concert, Jared Leto sets Thirty Seconds To Mars apart from the other acts by announcing “You guys don’t mind if a Rock band plays a song do you? I do have to apologize we are not a Pop band, but we are so proud to be here, I hope you guys can forgive us.” (12:22)

2) I have read a few places that Thirty Seconds To Mars makes concept albums, they do not. The best way to describe them is as an art project, Jared’s own words. Listening to their albums, I hear a common thread running through them, nothing you need to realize or know to enjoy the music, but it is there just the same. Usually videos are just a vehicle for a single, with 30STM, they are another facet to the band.

Check out the first video for the new album’s single “Up in the air” below, the short film/music video for “From yesterday” and, if you are feeling in an art house mood, check out the uncensored “Hurricane”.

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