Singer Robbie Williams, who is a huge star everywhere except the U.S., says he’s upset about EMI boss’ Guy Hands’ cuts at the music label. From the UK’s Times:
Williams, who has sold 70 million records for EMI, is leading a number of stars refusing to work for the company since its £3.2 billion takeover by Terra Firma, the financier. He is withholding the next album in his £80 million deal from EMI and his manager said Guy Hands, the new boss of EMI, was behaving like a “plantation owner”.
Unclear if any stars are actually “refusing to work” for EMI. The paper mentions that members of Coldplay, one of the label’s remaining big bands, are also in a snit, specifically over the departure of UK exec Tony Wadsworth this week. But those seem to be cross words, and little else. It also notes that Radiohead and Paul McCartney have “walked out” on EMI, which is a bit strong — more accurately, they didn’t sign new contracts, which was a bummer for EMI in the case of Radiohead, but not so much for Sir Paul, since EMI still gets to sell Beatles music. Also, both of those non-signings happened before the Terra Firma takeover.
Anyway, as the report notes, stars bitching about their music labels is a hallowed tradition — there’s a useful but incomplete history at the bottom of the piece — so nothing new here. What is new is what Williams would stand to lose if he really doesn’t play ball: Because he’s signed a mega-millions deal with EMI to share music, merchandise and tour revenue — one of the industry’s first, and only “360” deals inked with a current superstar — he doesn’t have the option to, say, not release a record but to go on tour.
If Williams wants to make more money, he’s going to have to work with EMI — no matter who owns the label.
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