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EMI Signs Pricey Contract With British Singer

October 03, 2002|CHUCK PHILIPS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

EMI Group signed a lavish deal Wednesday with British pop star Robbie Williams to keep the singer under a contract that allows the struggling music corporation to tap into a bevy of new revenue streams such as sponsorships, concert receipts, merchandising and acting fees.

Industry sources said the deal could be worth more than $60 million--nearly half of which EMI was required to pay Williams upon signing the contract. Although Williams is not well-known in the U.S., the photogenic pop star is wildly successful in Europe and has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.

Representatives for EMI and Williams declined to comment.

Sources said the contract required EMI to invest about $20 million for a minority stake in a new company that will manage Williams' touring, merchandising, sponsorship and film and TV deals. Sources said EMI would share about 30% of the revenue generated by those ventures--unlike most music companies, which typically get paid for only record sales.

Under EMI's deal with Williams, sources said, the company also must advance him $10 million as soon as he delivers his next album. The pact requires Williams to deliver four studio albums, plus two greatest-hits compilations. Sources said EMI could pay Williams as much as $30 million for those recordings over the next decade.

EMI, home to such acts as Coldplay and Janet Jackson, has struggled through years of management turmoil, cutting jobs, closing labels, firing artists and grappling with digital piracy as music sales decline industrywide. EMI posted a loss of about $310 million in the year ended March 31.

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