The possible/likely breakup between the Rolling Stones and EMI, their record label, has professional angry dude Bob Lefsetz in rare form. The short version: Big acts are great, if you make money off them. Otherwise, a pox on all their huge houses! Slightly longer version:
That’s what the label needs, another one-sided deal with a hefty advance just to show the industry they’re still in business. Shit, isn’t this one of the reasons the majors are in trouble to begin with, paying outrageous advances to acts that don’t earn it back?
There’s history here. Richard Branson was done with the record business. He wanted out. He deplored the headaches and wanted to invest in new businesses. But Virgin Records wasn’t sexy enough. It didn’t have enough marquee artists. So he signed the Stones after their Atlantic contract expired. The loveable Ahmet didn’t want to make the deal, it was too rich for his blood. And it was too rich for Branson’s blood too. But not for EMI’s. Which purchased Virgin for an inflated price, partly based on getting the Stones, even though the Stones had never ever released a record on Virgin. And, as stated above, their albums did not have a great track record for moving product. But EMI wanted market share. They wanted to impress investors. And investors thought the Stones were the world’s greatest rock band. And the world’s greatest rock band sells a shitload of records, right? Wrong.
There’s a lot more — Bob’s not brief — but all worth reading here.
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