There are many reasons why 30 Seconds To Mars third album, "This Is War," is an epic work of modern music. Instead of settling into the driving, raw rock sound they crafted on their sophomore album, "A Beautiful Lie," the trio sought to occupy more space, producing an electronically-rooted brand of progressive rock. The album has sold nearly four million copies worldwide, and it propelled the band through 300 shows in just two years (currently the longest run of live shows on a single album cycle).
The most notable thing about "This Is War," however, is the fact that 30 Seconds to Mars recorded this album with a $30 million dollar lawsuit from their record label EMI hanging over their heads.
Jared Leto, along with his fellow band members, brother Shannon and Tomo Milicevic, documented the tumultuous journey in the documentary "Artifact," which premiered and at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, winning the BlackBerry People's Choice Documentary Award. On Dec. 3, Leto will release the documentary through FilmBuff, making it available on Video On Demand, iTunes, Amazon, and several other platforms.
Beyond insight into the band's construction of the album's 12 tracks, the film thoroughly examines the current state of the music industry, focusing on the sinuous relationships between major labels and their artists.
Author and musical journalist Neil Strauss describes lawsuits like 30 Seconds to Mars' as cases of "David against Goliath," explaining how the label's technique is to wear out the artist emotionally and financially until they cave to their demands. At one point, Leto provides an infographic breakdown of how record label contracts work, and how they result in band's falling into deeper debt to the label with each album release.
As the band's balancing act between writing a new album and fighting for a fair settlement spirals into madness, Leto constantly finds himself asking whether he should accept the "antiquated dinosaur deal," or risk the trials of a self-release.
"What's the new model?" Leto questions, a conundrum currently at the forefront of the music industry as DIY platforms like Kickstarter continue to poke holes in the reign of corporate labels.
The documentary also touches on how labels missed out on owning digital distribution, a brief background of the three bandmates, and even has a special appearance from Flavor Flav.
You can watch the official trailer above.