Music isn't always a harmonious business, and sometimes artists find themselves in open conflict with the people who fund, distribute and promote their work - the record label.
While distressing for all concerned, that urge to escape can also result in some very creative thinking on the part of the artists in question. Here are just a few acts who took their need for freedom to impressive extremes.
1. By going for broke
In 1979, Tom Petty felt aggrieved when his label Shelter Records was taken over by the corporate giant MCA. After two successful albums and with not much money to show for it, he started to dig his heels in, telling reporters he refused to be "bought and sold like a piece of meat". His next tactic was to pay for the recording costs of his third album out of the band's purse, racking up $500,000 in studio bills, then filing for bankruptcy, in the hope that MCA would void his contract. Knowing they had a hit artist on their hands, MCA agreed to negotiate a new contract worth $3m, and released that third album, Damn the Torpedoes, which turned out to be the record that made Petty a household name.
Joss Stone had a similarly tight time of it when she left her contract with EMI. Having brought in millions from her worldwide hits, she objected to the way her career was being handled in 2009, offering to give back a portion of her £7.5m advance. She told the Daily Mail that, despite owning property, she was "down to nothing", and: "Money is the thing that people hold over you but to me it was just cotton balls. Don't let it suffocate you. Don't let yourself need it that much. I just thought: 'I'm free. I'll go out and play some gigs and earn my living.'"
2. By changing names
By the early-1990s, Prince was already one of music's most prolific artists and his need to keep releasing records was causing friction with his label, Warner Bros. And it was that urge to keep making new music that lead to him trying to break his contract by dispensing with the one identifying mark they had on the paperwork - his name.
In 1993, he insisted that he was now the infamous unpronounceable symbol - a combination of the male ♂ and female ♀ with a regal flourish - leading radio presenters all over the world to start calling him 'The Artist Formerly Known as Prince'. Emboldened by this and his decision to write the word 'slave' on his face, Prince released a succession of albums designed to complete his contract in record time - Come, The Love Symbol Album, The Gold Experience, The Black Album, the soundtrack to the Spike Lee film Girl 6 and finally 1996's Chaos and Disorder - by which time Warners felt he'd saturated the market and lost fans along the way.
Just to hammer the point home, Prince waited just three months after his final Warners album came out before releasing the triple album Emancipation.
3. By recording unreleasable music
There are few people as churlish as a rocker being forced to make records they don't want to make. So when The Rolling Stones were informed by Decca Records that they had to record a final single before their contract was completed and they started their own label, Mick Jagger set out to make the kind of song no one would want to put out, as Popmatters reported. Schoolboy Blues is that song, and thanks to its sexually explicit lyrics, it was never commercially released in the UK - although there was a limited run of 100 12" singles in America.
A similar situation occurred with Van Morrison and Bang Records in 1967. Van had been signed by acclaimed producer and songwriter Bert Berns, who ran the label. But their relationship fizzled, and when Berns died suddenly, Van's music was left under the control of his wife. Irritated and petulant, Van went into the studio, embarking on a long session of improvised songs, banging out lyrics on a slightly out-of-tune acoustic guitar and registering each new song in order to fulfill the final terms of his contract, as Open Culture reported. The session was eventually released as part of a box set of Bang recordings earlier this year, and features such delights as Ring Worm ("I can see by the look on your face / That you've got ring worm"), Blowin' Your Nose, Nose In Your Blow, Shake It Mable and You Say France and I Whistle.
His next release was the astonishing Astral Weeks, for a different label.
4. By becoming an entirely different band
The Rezillos dealt with their own label troubles with Sire Records in the time honoured tradition of all bands with an axe to grind, by turning on each other. In 1978, after a postponed tour due to illness and some simmering resentments between band members about which musical direction they should go in next, they were strongly encouraged by their managers to start acting as if they liked the people who paid their wages, which prompted a band row, and the decision to split the group.
After a brief spell with other bands, singers Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife decided to start where they had left off, and went to Sire to see about being freed from their record contract, something that may have prevented them from working again. Sire agreed, providing they did not attempt to perform under the name The Rezillos. Eugene and Fay eventually settled on the very different (legally, at least) The Revillos, which was closer to their original inspiration for the name of the band - a nightclub called Revilos in the DC comic The Shadow.
5. By releasing a 'video album' (and sacking everyone)
The intense success of Frank Ocean's debut studio album Channel Orange in 2012 gave him a lot of negotiating power and financial muscle, which he immediately put to use trying to sever ties with his record label Def Jam. As Billboard reported, having been signed back in 2009, Frank felt that he had been kept on the subs' bench for two years, denied the chance to release his music until the popularity of his self-financed 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra proved he had a viable fanbase.
While working on the follow-up, Frank sacked his management, his legal team and his publicist, and used his new wealth to purchase all of his master recordings and buy himself out of his contract. Def Jam were allowed to release the 'video album' Endless on Apple Music in 2016; then, the day after it came out, Frank put out Blonde - Channel Orange's official follow-up - which he had paid for himself.
Frank told the New York Times the releases had been the final move in a "seven year chess game" to gain control over his career: "I wanted to feel like I won before the record came out, and I did, and so it took a lot pressure off of me about how the record even would perform after the fact. Once the goal is met, everything else is lagniappe."
6. By recording the most challenging album of all time
One of the great things about having a formidable artistic reputation, of the sort enjoyed by Lou Reed, is that you can make records that defy all conventional understanding, that meet all the necessary criteria for being regarded as unlistenable, and people will sit with them patiently until they start to make sense. So when Lou released a double album of attritional feedback entitled Metal Machine Music in 1975, opinions were immediately divided as to whether he'd done it to get dropped by his record label RCA or it was a genuine artistic statement.
It didn't help that Lou wrote, "Most of you won’t like this, and I don’t blame you at all. It’s not meant for you" in the album's liner notes, which also sardonically detailed a series of instruments and technology settings which may or may not have been used in the recording. In Victor Bockris's book Transformer, Lou is quoted as saying the album was "a giant f***-you" to fans of his hits.
In a 2009 Pitchfork interview, he reaffirmed his faith in the project, saying, "The myth is sort of better than the truth. The myth is that I made it to get out of a recording contract. OK, but the truth is that I wouldn't do that, because I wouldn't want you to buy a record that I didn't really like, that I was just trying to do a legal thing with. I wouldn't do something like that. The truth is that I really, really, really loved it."
In any case it didn't work, his next album, the more conventional Coney Island Baby, came out on RCA only six months later.