EMI shrugs off Coldplay star's tirade

Click to follow
The Independent Online

EMI's relationship with the Coldplay singer Chris Martin is "excellent', it insisted yesterday, despite delays in the release of his band's album and his recent tirade against EMI and its shareholders.

EMI's relationship with the Coldplay singer Chris Martin is "excellent', it insisted yesterday, despite delays in the release of his band's album and his recent tirade against EMI and its shareholders.

The music company was forced to issue a profits warning this year, which it blamed in part on a delay of X&Y, the new album from Coldplay. EMI reported a drop in annual profits of more than £21m yesterday.

In a television interview this month, Mr Martin showed no sympathy for EMI. He said: "I don't really care about EMI. I'm not really concerned about that. I think shareholders are the greatest evil of this modern world. Deadlines mean nothing to us. We'll sink the whole company if we have to."

EMI's chairman, Eric Nicoli, tried to make light of the comments yesterday, saying simply, with a shrug: "He's an artist."

Mr Nicoli added: "Chris is a brilliant musician, focused on his music. His intention was to produce the best album he could. The relationship [with Mr Martin] is excellent."

He said that while the postponement of the release of X&Y was "unhelpful", meaning it fell outside EMI's 2004-05 financial year, "we have no discomfort in supporting artists".

The company declined to comment on reports that Coldplay were promised a special bonus to deliver the album on time. It was due before the end of March but will now be released on 6 June.

Alain Levy, the head of recorded music business, said: "Artists are not there to worry about shareholders. It's hard enough to be a worldwide talent."

EMI warned in February that profits would be hit by the postponement of the Coldplay album and a delay in releasing the Gorillaz's album, Demon Days, released this week. EMI has also cited lower-than-anticipated reorders of previously released material in the fourth quarter.

The company reported profits down to £141.9m yesterday, for the year to the end of March, from £163.3m the previous year. Sales of recorded music dropped 7.4 per cent, while EMI's music publishing business saw sales grow 4.9 per cent. Digital music sales accounted for 2.5 per cent of group sales which, Mr Nicoli said, meant it was now a "meaningful" revenue stream.

Physical, as opposed to digital, music sales improved in continental Europe, Japan and Latin America, although the market in North America softened.

EMI was optimistic about the prospects of a recovery in the recorded music market, which has been eroded by consumers illegally downloading music. Mr Nicoli said people over 40 were increasingly returning to buy physical music, partly as a result of supermarket and internet sales.

"Over time, the growth in [legal] digital will outstrip any decline in the physical market and the industry will return to growth," he said. Global music sales have been in decline for five years. Last year, however, the fall was only 1 per cent, if digital and physical sales are combined - an improvement on the 5.6 per cent fall of the previous year.

Mr Nicoli said it was "conceivable" growth could return in the current year, if digital music continued its rapid growth and physical sales stabilise. In any case, he said EMI would outperform the wider market this year.

Comments