Metallica was in Austin last week for a not-so-secret show at the South by Southwest music festival designed to promote a new edition of the video game Guitar Hero, due out this month. But the band's outspoken drummer, Lars Ulrich, took the opportunity to set the record straight on key issues facing the group, including its relationship with its longtime label Warner Music Group and the proposed Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger.
Metallica's 2008 release "Death Magnetic" was the last the group contractually owed to Warner, and Ulrich said he's ready to consult with another famously anti-corporate artist, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, about surviving outside the major-label system.
When asked if the band needed a major label, Ulrich, despite being surrounded by Warner reps, didn't mince words. "Without offending any of the good people from the record company in the room, no," Ulrich said. "Let's cut to the chase. . . . The primary -- not the only, but the primary -- function of a record label is to act as a bank. When you're fortunate enough to be successful and so on, you don't need to rely on record companies as the banks. . . .
"We're doing a bunch of shows with Trent this summer in Europe. I look forward to sitting down and talking to him about what's on his radar."Metallica going DIY would be a major event, but given how innovative the band has been in recent years, it would hardly be surprising.
Metallica does not need marketing or promotion (which are/should be primary functions of a record label) : they've built a very strong image, a huge fan base and all the Internet attention they need.
And oh, their last record just sold 1.57 million copies in the US (that's #7 album for 2008).
I say: go for it guys :)