Monday, October 07, 2002

First hit of new Williams contract: EMI's Share Price

Now there's been a couple of days for people to mull the implications of the "groundbreaking" Robbie Williams deal, it's starting to look a lot less rosy for EMI.

First up, the GBP80million price tag has been thrown out - Investic has priced the deal at a more realistic GBP35million, a large portion of which is based on sales of non-music related items. In effect, rather than signing up to make music for EMI, Williams has mortgaged a portion of his future earnings on memorobillia, concert tickets and other tat. Interestingly, this is believed to be the area in which artists who are creatively dead make their cash - the example offered is the Rolling Stones, who couldn't get a new single near the Top Ten but are still ticking over nicely touring. In theory, EMI have made a shrewd move, a first step away from being a record label into what the Guardian describes as a "full entertainment company." But its debatable if this such a great move - as we've heard, it looks as if, in the short term at least, the age of Big Tours is over. Even if the serious slump in Top 50 gig ticket sales is reversed, you can only make huge sums by hammering American roads - and right now Robbie Williams couldn't sell out a shopping mall in Beckenridge, never mind fill arenas with punters enough to justify the size of the contract. As ever, much hangs on the ability to break America. We don't think Robbie can do it - not in his current incarnation.

Making matters worse, no sooner had Robbie signed to EMI than his long term writing "partner" Guy Chambers announced he'd had enough and was going to do other things. Since we imagine the partnership involves Guy Chambers writing the music and words, and Robbie Williams choosing whereabouts in the video he'll look into the camera and gurn, it was enough of a blow to knock EMI's already battered shares down further still - it's akin to spending a fortune buying the rights to Lambchop and discovering that Shari Lewis wasn't part of the deal.

EMI maintain that there's any number of songwriters who could write "with" Robbie, but the fact is there's already a distinctive sound, and there's no guarantee that pairing him up with James Dean Bradfield, say, is going to do anything other than dilute the brand.

Williams - can he be the new Daniel Bedingfield? [Guardian]
Whoops, there goes another penny [FT]

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