"We feel a responsibility to get great music to our fans. Unfortunately, we believe that we can't accomplish that effectively with the current Warner Music," the rock-rap band said in a statement.
However, the group, which has sold more than 16 million albums in the United States, still owes label Warner Bros. four more albums. Warner Bros. Records dismissed the group's contentions as a ploy.
"We value our relationship with Linkin Park, and we are proud of our work together since signing the band ... in 1999. While Linkin Park's talent is without question, the band's management is using fictitious numbers and making baseless charges and inflammatory threats in what is clearly a negotiating tactic," the company said. "Warner Bros. Records has made significant investments in Linkin Park, and they have always been compensated generously for their outstanding worldwide success."
The dispute comes as Warner prepares to go public. It was acquired last year for $2.6 billion from Time Warner Inc. by a private investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr., now its chairman and chief executive.
A source close to the band who spoke on condition of anonymity contends the group is upset because the company has not guaranteed how much they plan to spend to market the group's next album, due to come out in 2006.
The source claims the group was offered a $3 million advance per album for five albums, which the band considered paltry given its sales. Linkin Park claims it has been responsible for 10 percent of Warner Music Group's record sales over the past five years.
"The new owners of the Warner Music Group will be reaping a windfall of $1.4 billion from their $2.6 billion purchase a mere 18 months ago if their planned IPO moves forward," the band's statement said. "Linkin Park, their biggest act, will get nothing."
But a source familiar with Warner's negotiations with Linkin Park, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, contends the band made unrealistic demands, including asking for a $60 million advance and a 50-50 profit split.
Linkin Park, whose top albums include "Hybrid" and "Meteora," said it's looking into releasing music through the Internet since it does not plan to deliver a new album to Warner Bros. But the label could challenge any new music released if they remain under contract.
Linkin Park's joint CD with Jay-Z, "Collision Course," has sold 1.6 million copies since last fall, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
By Nekesa Mumbi Moody