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My So-Called Record Contract

Stop The Presses!

Ah, the wonderful world of symmetry. We've just gotten another could-be-true-could-not report that the new Guns N' Roses CD Chinese Democracy, which has been "in the making" for a mere 14 years, may well finally turn up in the flesh, as they say, and as an exclusive at retail giant Wal-Mart at that. It seems to have something to do with the fact that Guns N' Roses - aka Axl Rose and a revolving cast of associates (can anyone prove there haven't been multiple Bucketheads? Just asking…) is now being managed by Front Line Productions — aka Irving Azoff, who last year bestowed on Wal-Mart the honor of being the official home of the Eagles album Long Road Out Of Eden, their first all-new studio release in, oh, just 28 years.

So — if the Eagles went 28 years between new albums, and Guns N' Roses will clock in at 14 between albums, it stands to reason that ubermanager Azoff should already be thinking about acquiring an act that can give the public a good seven year wait between successive releases. And we think we've got just the right group for him: 30 Seconds To Mars, which this past Friday found itself on the sue-ee end of a $30 million dollar breach of contract lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Virgin Records America. Not exactly chump change, even if your name is Jordan Catalano — er, I mean, Jared Leto.

Leto, of course, is the former My So Called Life/Requiem For a Dream actor/musician, frontman/leader of 30 Seconds to Mars, whose most recent album, A Beautiful Lie, came out in 2005. It was the band's second album for Virgin, who signed them in 1999 to a contract that called for a total of five albums. Math scholars we're not, but clearly Leto and bandmate brother Shannon Catala…I mean Leto have not exactly been churning out product at a pace sufficient enough to please Virgin, who instituted their lawsuit after the band decided to terminate the contract on the grounds that — well, according to Jared's note to the group's fans on their website, on the grounds that they signed a very long time ago and California law says a contract can be deemed null and void after a maximum of seven years.

True, it can be argued that since 30 Seconds waited a good two additional years past the original seven that maybe there wasn't anything particuarly wrong with the contract. Not to mention the fact that after nine years they weren't even halfway towards fulfilling their product requirement. To which Jared's website screed claims the following:

"If you think the fact that we have sold in excess of 2 million records and have never been paid a penny is pretty unbelievable, well, so do we. And the fact that EMI informed us that not only aren't they going to pay us AT ALL but that we are still 1.4 million dollars in debt to them is even crazier. That the next record we make will be used to pay off that old supposed debt just makes you start wondering what is going on. "

Now we here at Stop The Presses! do not intend to take sides in the old art versus commerce debate, though it should probably be pointed out to the group that videos don't come cheap these days — especially when you're ripping off the likes of The Shining (for "The Kill") and The Last Emperor (for "From Yesterday"). I mean, somebody had to send some money to Stephen King and Steven Spielberg so they wouldn't sue, right? 

In any event, if A Beautiful Lie came out in 2005, then the aforementioned Irving Azoff should grab 30 Seconds To Mars right away, and start working on the marketing campaign for the next album, with a target date of 2012.  Especially since Jared promises fans that even with all their current legal entanglements, the group "is happy, healthy and very much together here in Los Angeles,  recording our new record." And given their track record so far, 2012 seems just about right, don't you think?

As they say, it's a (welcome to the) jungle out there.

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