Avenged Sevenfold's troubles with Warner Bros. all started in January 2016, when the label sued the band over a potential new album. Avenged Sevenfold cited the "seven-year rule" as to why it was trying to do a new album and bail on the label, which we've snagged the official explanation and wording of below.
The "seven-year rule" of the California Labor Code allows parties to leave personal service contracts under certain circumstances after seven years have passed. Upon record industry lobbying, the 70-year-old law was amended in the 1980s to allow record companies to claim lost profits on uncompleted albums. Record companies, though, only have 45 days to do so when an artist exercises the right to terminate.
Right before Avenged Sevenfold's new album The Stage was released via Capitol Records, Warner Bros. put out a Greatest Hits in hopes of cashing in on the album. About two weeks after that article, Warner Bros. announced it would be taking the band to court, though everything eventually seemed like it was settled.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit has not been settled, and will be the first time in the modern music industry that the "seven-year rule" will be tested before a jury. The Hollywood Reporter states that if Avenged Sevenfold ultimately loses the court battle, it could be used for between $5 million and $10 million. Though if it wins, this could mean that major artists can now successfully invoke the law and escape long-term contracts if they so choose ot.
"We've realized this battle is bigger than just us," says Avenged Sevenfold singer Matt Sanders (known professionally as M. Shadow). "We're fighting so that all musical artists have the same rights everyone else has. It's not like we wanted to be here, but we are down for the fight."
The band's attorney Howard King also argues that The Stage was a commercial failure, which it was – The Stage sold half as many copies as Hail To The King did in its first week. Although, was this a planned move by the band? There was literally no announcement for The Stage before it came out, so purposefully knocking those numbers down for the lawsuit is entirely possible.
The lawsuit is expected to go to court this December. This could change the face of music industry contracts, so it will be one to watch.