Robbie Williams To Lead The Picket Line Outside EMI’s Offices

Robbie Williams is planning on engaging in a work stoppage, threatening to withhold his next album from his label, EMI, while having his manager call belt-tightening Terra Firma chair Guy Hands a “plantation owner.” Williams’ forthcoming Mark Ronson-produced album is slated for this fall, but that might not happen until 2009 or so because he’s really not looking forward to watching the label attempt to market it. (Although really, could their marketing result in a failure bigger than the one Williams endured while trying to break the States?)

A new Williams album, due for September release, should be a huge earner for EMI. But Tim Clark, Williams’s manager, told The Times: “The question is, ‘Should Robbie deliver the new album he is due to release to EMI?’ We have to say the answer is ‘No’. We have no idea how EMI will market and promote the album. They do not have anyone in the digital sphere capable of doing the job required. All we know is they are going to decimate their staff.”

Mr Clark discussed Williams’s future with Mr Hands, but said the financier was acting like a “plantation owner” who had stumbled into the record industry via a “vanity purchase”.

Williams, 33, who is recording with the hit producer Mark Ronson, wants to follow Radiohead’s example and release new music directly to fans through his website. Lucrative mobile deals with T-Mobile and Sony Ericsson are on the table.

He is seeking control over his back catalogue from EMI, the issue that prompted Radiohead’s departure, and a greater return on digital distribution of his music.

Mr Clark said: “EMI can sue or pay up his contract. Robbie needs to know what services EMI can provide to an artist of his standing.”

What’s also probably worth noting here is that Williams’ deal with EMI has the label getting a cut of his tour and merchandising sales, as well; as such, Williams has little to no incentive to get out on the road and play shows. No doubt with all that free time he’ll be able to get a few more tattoos, although if he gets really bored I can’t help but wonder if he’ll start calling up his old Take That bandmates for a pint and some “reminiscing.”

Robbie Williams issues call to arms in protest at EMI ‘bean counters’ [Times Online]
Robbie Williams – Millennium [YouTube]

  • musicquizking

    Robbie is TOO British for middle America to embrace him. That said, his version of World Party’s “Shes The One” is fucking killer!

  • Chris Molanphy

    You hinted at it above, but Robbie’s deal with EMI is basically the prototypical 21st Century “360°” deal, signed years ago before the industry had gone as deeply into the toilet as it has. So, just to amplify your point (“Williams has little to no incentive to get out on the road and play shows”), this shows the folly of the 360° model, especially as these companies cut themselves to the bone. Who’s going to promote 360° worth of commerce when there’s no one left?

    @musicquizking: Wow, word – still my favorite of his songs, and I can’t believe he out-Wallinger’d Wallinger on that one.

  • dreamsneverend

    I enjoy Robbie as VJ and play one of his videos each week in the club. I doubt he will ever crack the US market as a whole, but most cooler club goers will know who he is around here!