Every week, Wondering Sound contributor Ami Armstrong recommends a music film available to stream.
Given the hullabaloo about Taylor Swift removing her music from Spotify, this 2012 documentary feels particularly timely. Directed by Jared Leto (under the pseudonym Bartholomew Cubbins), Artifact cuts between the recording of 30 Seconds to Mars’ album This is War and input from music industry artists/executives about how upside-down the business is right now.
The “war” in the title of the album refers to the band’s struggle to get out of their record deal with EMI after it was clear they would never see the royalties from finally having a hit album. EMI responded with a $30 million breach-of-contract suit, which they aggressively pushed to litigate.
Leto comes off as a likeable leader throughout the film, bringing together a range of musicians and high-level industry execs to share their perspective of the music biz — including those who were at EMI during the band’s contract woes.
Artifact also does a great job covering the history of consumer’s access to music. It shows that record companies are averse to change and innovation, which caused them to miss out on the potential upsides of digital music, allowing the platform was co-opted by tech companies (like iTunes).
Even if you’re not a 30 Seconds to Mars fan, Artifact is sure to spark worthwhile discussion of the music industry’s paradigm shift.
Stream Artifact on Netflix and watch the trailer below.