Jared Leto is finally releasing his documentary Artifact, detailing his war with the music industry when record label Virgin/EMI sued his band 30 Seconds to Mars for $30 million in 2008.

Jared Leto's Documentary Artifact

Artifact began as a behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of the band’s album This Is War. When they began contract renegotiations with EMI during the recording process, the documentary quickly shifted into a sort of tell-all investigation into the relationship artists have with their record labels.

The movie, directed by Leto himself, first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 where it won the People’s Choice Documentary Award, and, over a year later, is finally being released on VOD and iTunes.

“I’m excited to share our insight on how this business really works. We get down to the nitty-gritty. We talk about the business inside and out and reveal quite a few things I think people will be shocked to realize. I think we made the right decision. Sometimes you have to fight in order to be free, and we did exactly that. We fought for what we knew was right, what we knew was fair. We were sued by EMI, but didn’t let that intimidate us,” Leto told EW about the documentary.

EMI Sued 30 Seconds To Mars For $30 Million

According to Leto, in 2008, 30 Seconds to Mars learned that, despite having sold millions of records worldwide, they had yet to see any profits and, in fact, owed EMI over $1.4 million. Leto and his bandmates, brother Shannon Leto and Tomo Milicevic, claim that, though they signed a 9-year contract with EMI, California law allowed them to terminate the contract after seven years. When they tried to terminate the contract, EMI, maintained that 30 Seconds to Mars were in breach of contract by refusing to deliver three of the five albums promised in their contract and decided to sue the band for $30 million.

“Yes we have been sued by EMI. But NOT for failing to deliver music or for ‘quitting.’ We have been sued by the corporation quite simply because roughly 45 days ago we exercised our legal right to terminate our old, out of date contract, which, according to the law is null and void. We terminated for a number of reasons… but basically our representatives could not get EMI to agree to make a fair and reasonable deal,” Leto wrote at the time.

The lawsuit was eventually resolved in 2008, and 30 Seconds to Mars signed a new contract with EMI, though the terms have not been released. But Artifact is not just about 30 Second To Mars’ battle with EMI. Artifact contains footage from numerous interviews of people in the industry, from managers and promoters to famous musicians such as Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.

“I’m not anti-record company, I’m just anti-greed. I think that record companies and corporations in general can treat audiences and artists fairly and still make a ton of money, which is what they’re designed to do, make money – that’s what corporations are built for – and to service shareholders and stockholders,” Leto explains.

– Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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