The new approach to the music industry from Terra Firma is now starting to roll out to the artists, as Guy Hands issues a memo calling on his roster to work harder. Presumably if they don't, Robbie Williams will find his job offshored:
“While many spend huge amounts of time working with their label to promote, perfect and endorse their music, some unfortunately simply focus on negotiating for the maximum advance . . . advances which are often never repaid,” he wrote in an internal memo this week.
Once EMI’s own standards had been raised, he said, it could be more selective: “It will be open to us to choose which artists we wish to work with and promote.”
Of course, there's no reason why EMI shouldn't choose to work like this - dumping the model of signing as much as possible, and cross-subsidising the failing artists from the monies made by the top acts. But whenever the RIAA complain about filesharing, they always stress how their labels need to sell the big artists in order to pay for the ones who don't hit. So that'll be a line they need to drop, then.
More importantly, if EMI aren't chasing new, young artists and choosing only to work with "hard-working" (i.e. proven) acts, where do they propose to find them? The only attractions of signing with a major have been the advances and the distribution - clearly, you don't need EMI for its network of CD plants and warehousing any more; if they take the support for artist development out of the mix, why would anyone want to do a deal with them?