EMI looks to Beatles for boost

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The Independent Online

EMI is expecting a bumper second half of the year with a host of big-name artists, including The Beatles, due to issue albums. The music publisher expects the new releases to compensate for a decline in first-half sales.

A host of popular EMI artists including Robbie Williams, Joss Stone and Nora Jones will release new records in the second half of EMI's financial year and should sell well over the Christmas sales period. Other big-selling artists including Depeche Mode, Moby and Keith Urban will also chip in with new albums.

Yet perhaps the highest profile release will prove to be a new collection of Beatles songs.

Sir George Martin, who produced almost all of the band's albums in the 1960s, has reworked a selection of famous songs that will be used to accompany a new Cirque du Soleil show called Love. The resulting soundtrack will be released in November.

Analysts had expected EMI to turn in a more subdued performance in the first half than in the previous year when albums from British acts Coldplay, Gorillaz and the perennially popular Rolling Stones dominated the charts. EMI said that first-half revenue, factoring in currency movements, would decline 5 per cent while profit before tax has declined 34 per cent to £27m.

Data from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry showed that in the first half of 2006, physical CD sales declined 10 per cent, leading to a 4 per cent drop in global media sales. The fall was partly offset by the explosion in the number of people who download music digitally. This now accounts for about 11 per cent of all music sales. During the first half, EMI's digital sales accounted for around 9 per cent of its music sales. It still lags the overall industry on this front.

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