Following recent major-label defections by Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, the Eagles, and Trent Reznor, U2 is reportedly in talks with concert promoter Live Nation over a deal similar to the one Madonna signed last year, which would cover albums, DVDs, touring, merchandise, licensing, and various other Edge-related income streams. According to Fox News' Roger Friedman, the band fulfilled their obligation to Interscope with 2005's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and last year's Joshua Tree reissue, and will likely release their forthcoming album (along with their soundtrack to Julie Taymor's Spider-Man musical) through Live Nation in 2008. If any of this is true, it's more terrific news for the record labels, who are just so flush with cash right now, their accountants will probably welcome the break. (UPDATE: Apparently it's not true! According to U2 manager Paul McGuinness, the band re-signed to Universal for four more albums. Yikes!)
Actually, without their retaining major acts — whose album sales generally help pay for the release of ones by smaller bands — it's hard to imagine a future in which record labels exist much past this year. So which huge, profitable artist will quit his label next? Coldplay? R.E.M.? Dave Matthews Band? And, more hilariously, who'll be rush-releasing substandard albums in 2008 to get out of their contracts?
U2 May Be Next to Leave Record Biz [Fox News]