Anthrax want clarity in Irving Azoff's battle for better royalties

A promotional picture of Anthrax

Anthrax say the wording of a campaign aimed at getting fairer royalty payments for bands could actually end up hitting them in the pocket.

The thrash icons have penned an open letter to music mogul Irving Azoff – who has managed bands including Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and the Eagles – and asked him to clarify the wording of a lawsuit launched by his firm Global Music Rights (GMR).

Azoff and GMR are locked in a legal battle with the Radio Music Licensing Committee, which represents radio stations in the US.

Azoff’s GMR holds the rights to a string of top acts and is demanding that radio stations pay more for the right to play their clients’ music. GMR is warning US radio stations that they will face legal action if they play any songs by GMR artists after January 1, 2017, without agreeing to the firm’s licensing terms.

GMR’s decision to name Anthrax among the long list of songs in its repertoire is misleading, the band says, because they are not represented by Azoff’s firm and that the only song in their name that is included is their 1999 cover of Metallica’s Phantom Lord.

Anthrax say: “Dear Mr Azoff. As artists and songwriters, we certainly appreciate anyone’s efforts to see that we are paid a fair wage for the use of our music, ‘fair pay for fair play,’ as your lawsuit against the Radio Music License Committee states.

“As a result of your suit, our understanding is that as of January 1, 2017, more than 10,000 US-based radio stations could be fined if they program songs written by a songwriter represented by your company, Global Music Rights, without first obtaining the proper license. We certainly understand and respect that.

“However, you’ve included Anthrax on your ‘What Songs are in the Global Music Rights repertoire’ and that mere inclusion presents a skewed and unjust misrepresentation of the complete facts. This could be very damaging to us and to our fellow performers who may find themselves in a similar situation.

“With no disrespect, none of the members of Anthrax are affiliated with GMR so the songs we’ve written would not be included or affected. However, way back in 1999, Anthrax did record a cover of the Metallica song Phantom Lord that was released on a limited-edition Anthrax EP.

“The credited composers for Phantom Lord are our good friends James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and then-Metallica member Dave Mustaine. As you included Metallica and Megadeth on your GMR Rights list, we believe our having recorded that one song some 17 years ago may be the only reason we are included on your list.”

It continues: “Mr Azoff, you and the songwriters you represent have every right to fight for fair compensation, and we would completely understand if you were to inform the more than 10,000 US-based radio stations that as of January 1, 2017, they cannot program the Anthrax cover of Phantom Lord unless they agree to the GMR licensing terms.

“But you don’t provide that information, you’ve merely listed ‘Anthrax’ which does nothing other than create a dark chasm of mystery for radio programmers. Without offering responsible specificity for the programmers, such as the actual title of the song that we recorded, written by the particular GMR client, you’ve created a precarious situation.

“Anthrax has recorded and released more than 150 songs over our 35-year career and we don’t want radio programmers to think that they cannot play any of those other songs.

“Please do the right thing, not just for Anthrax, but for all of the artists you’ve listed on your GMR site — provide specific information to radio about what songs are affected and cannot be programmed without the required GMR license.”

GMR has not yet responded to Anthrax’s letter.

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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.