Read Anthrax's Open Letter to Irving Azoff Asking For Damage Control

Metal legends worry that a mistake in Azoff's lawsuit will adversely affect radio play

Anthrax have penned an open letter to Irving Azoff after the record exec mistakenly included the band as part of his Global Music Rights' lawsuit. Credit: Jimmy Hubbard, Nathaniel Wood/Getty

Anthrax penned an open letter to Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, for mistakenly including the band in his Global Music Rights' (GMR) "fair pay for fair play" lawsuit against radio stations. The band insinuates the error could discourage radio stations from playing Anthrax songs. 

Starting January 1st, over 10,000 radio stations will be forced to acquire a license in order to play music associated with a GMR artist – the roster includes Jay Z, the Beatles, Adele, Daft Punk and hundreds more – on the air.

GMR appeared to include Anthrax in the suit, which the band claims was a mistake since they aren't associated with the music rights management company. In the open letter, the band write that they are in a "precarious situation" because radio stations without GMR licenses could be reticent about playing their music, even though they aren't bound to GMR.

The root of the confusion, Anthrax believes, is their cover of Metallica's "Phantom Lord," a track penned by that band's James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich as well as Megadeth's Dave Mustaine; Anthrax note that both Megadeth and Metallica are GMR artists, although only Megadeth is listed on the Global Music Rights repertoire.

"We would completely understand if you were to inform the more than 10,000 U.S.-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," Anthrax wrote to Azoff.

"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 close out their open letter by asking Azoff and GMR to be more specific with its database, so that artists like Anthrax aren't lumped into the repertoire because of just one song.

"We would ask that you recognize the fact that radio stations are short staffed so likely would not have the time necessary to use your search tool to locate the Anthrax song - and there is JUST ONE - that was written by one of your GMR artists," the band wrote. "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."

Read Anthrax's open letter in full below:

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 U.S.-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 reason we are on your list.

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 U.S.-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. With the release of our most recent album, Anthrax has had two Top 40 tracks at rock radio and our label will be working another song at this format in early 2017. We would ask that you recognize the fact that radio stations are short staffed so likely would not have the time necessary to use your search tool to locate the Anthrax song - and there is JUST ONE - that was written by one of your GMR artists. 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.

With respect,

Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna, Jonathan Donais