Okay, so we have all had that dream. You know the one, you’re going to start a band, be a rock star and make millions; RIGHT?
Artifact blows our dreams out of the water, with this in-depth documentary on everything that is wrong in the record industry. This documentary began life as something completely different, originally it had begun as a film of 30 Seconds to Mars and the development and recording of their third studio album This Is War! After finishing a two year world tour for their previous release, the band found themselves back in LA and while preparing to begin the recording of the album the band took stock of their contractual situation with their record company finding that after 9 years in a contract they had yet to receive a penny from the sales of their albums. While in contractual discussions with EMI the band felt little was being done to address these concerns and decided to use a loophole in Californian Entertainment Law to end their contract with EMI.
Using what little funds they had available to them a studio was built in the basement of Jared’s house and producers and technicians were hired. And the recording process began even at this stage the film was still just ‘A Making of’ though all this would soon change. The band were nominated for awards at the MTV EMA’s which were being held in Mexico. The guys flew at their own cost to Mexico and picked up two awards at the show. It was a good night for the band and even Tomo’s new friend Flavor Flav made an appearance. It was the next morning that everything was to change when Jared received notification that he, his brother Shannon and drummer Tomo were being sued by EMI for breaking their contract. The amount they were being sued Thirty Million Dollars!
The remainder of the film covers the epic battle between the band and the label. Jared’s explains using graphics how the band ended up in this situation it’s easy to understand and informative to all especially anyone starting out in the business. This isn’t an egotistical rant against record labels, it is far from just the band’s opinion which is seen as Jared interviews executives from EMI who were sacked as this was all taking place who themselves admit there is something decidedly fishy with the business. Also interviewed is Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, Serj Tankian from System of a Down and Brandon Boyd from Incubus to name a few. These heavyweights of the rock industry add weight to Jared’s argument and it is hard not to rally behind the musician in his David and Goliath battle.
The film has one a handful of awards at the festivals it has played and is now available to download on iTunes. I was lucky enough to see it premier on VyRT alongside a commentary with Jared and Tomo from the band which was even more eye-opening and informative. While the band resolved the law suit with their label it isn’t much of a happy ending as even on the premier of Artifact on VyRT the band were still in debt to the label to the sum of millions of dollars. So if you are interested in the music industry or an artist just starting out have a look at artifact it will open your eyes and possibly tarnish some dreams, but it is compelling to watch as the battle unfurls.
*Bartholomew Cubbins is a pseudonym used by Leto taken from the Dr Seuss stories.