R.E.M.: WB Deal Done, No Contract Plans

However, some sources
suggest Michael Stipe is claiming that the band will be re-signing with Warner
Bros. What does YOUR Magic 8-ball tell you?

 

By Fred Mills

 

With R.E.M.’s new album Collapse
Into Now
hitting stores this week, on March 8 – their strongest release in
years, it’s reviewed here as part of BLURT’s “First Look” series – it appears
that neither heavy-duty promotion nor future prognostication regarding whether
or not they will remain with longtime label Warner Bros. is part of the game
plan for the beloved alterna-rock pioneers.

 

Speaking to the Wall
Street Journal,
founding member Mike Mills said, “We’re not talking to
anybody about anything. We don’t know what the future holds.” Mills added
that, of the group’s decision not to tour this time around (something they’ve
done in the past with new releases), “This just didn’t feel like the right
time to do it. It’s hard to be more specific than that.”

 

Vaguely worded or not, it’s hard to be more R.E.M.-esque
than that. Our prediction, based on a lengthy consultation with the official
BLURT Magic 8-ball, is that the band will either (a) re-sign with WB; (b) hook
up with a major indie (Vagrant, Yep Roc, Sub Pop, etc.) with whom they have
already established six-degrees-of-separation ties; or – most likely scenario –
(c) handle future releases themselves and simply license them to selected
labels in various territories worldwide, a
la
Radiohead.

 

That said, at least one industry observer, Showbiz411.com,
is casting its lot with the Warner option, citing a chance recent encounter between contributor Roger Friedman and R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe in which
Stipe appeared to confirm, albeit tentatively, that assumption.

 

“Over the weekend,” wrote Friedman last week, “I ran into…
Michael Stipe. REM [sic] is getting ready for a big release in
April [sic]. It’s part of their
famous $80 million advance from the mid 90s [sic] when the old Warner Music was going through an upheaval….
Michael Stipe, sporting a bushy beard, told me the new music stays
with WMG – “that’s where our catalog is,” he reminded me. Stipe says he’s
making a bunch of short videos with famous artists and filmmakers to along [sic] with all the new songs.”

 

 

 

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