The Pulse of Radio reports that METALLICA's future with its record label, Warner Bros. Records, may not extend past the release of the band's ninth studio album this fall. According to, Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of the Warner Music Group, of which Warner Bros. Records is a division, declined to comment on the status of contract negotiations with the band during a quarterly conference call earlier this month. The new METALLICA album is the band's last under its current contract with the label, which dates back to 1984 when the quartet first signed with Warner subsidiary Elektra Records.

METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich told The Pulse of Radio that finishing out its recording contract was a liberating experience for the band. "It's awesome," he said. "I mean, to be out of your record contract, it's exciting just because of, what are the new and that's not anything disrespectful about the great bunch of people up at Warner Bros. Records. But it's just exciting to be able to communicate directly with your fans, and having the opportunities to do it, you know. I think that's really exciting."

Warner Music has already lost MADONNA to Live Nation and is reportedly paying a tremendous amount of money to keep NICKELBACK under contract, while other artists that have recently defected from the major labels include NINE INCH NAILS and RADIOHEAD.

In other news, METALLICA's web site unveiled a number of pricing tiers for fans to sign up at, with each tier offering a variety of exclusive content and features. The prices range from free, which provides video footage from the studio, archival live tracks, new photos and excerpts of new songs, to the $125 "platinum" level, which provides a boxed set of five vinyl LPs, a physical copy of the band's upcoming CD, a high quality digital version of the album, a Mission: Metallica lithograph, plus more web content and exclusive downloads of complete live shows.

METALLICA will headline Tennessee's Bonnaroo festival in mid-June, followed by the new one-day Ozzfest on August 9 in Dallas. Tickets for Ozzfest, which also features OZZY OSBOURNE, SERJ TANKIAN, HELLYEAH, SEVENDUST and others, begin pre-sales through MySpace on Friday (May 30).


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