||Main >> Previous Updates >> January 2007 >> January 21, 2007 >> Article ID 10090
| Death of the Diva||Type: Internet Article|
|Death of the Diva||Jan 21, 2007|
|by Chris Goodman|
|THE music industry is so short of cash that experts are predicting the end of the pop star diva.|
Many are bracing themselves for a revolution in the music business this year and the first to suffer may be notoriously demanding stars like Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez (pictured) and Jessica Simpson.
Troubles at Britain’s last major independent record company last week have marked an end to indulging their whims.
EMI announced huge debts and plans to save £120million, while there is cost-cutting across all the big labels.
Two of the music industry’s most respected executives, EMI boss Alain Levy and his deputy David Munns, were sacked.
“The days of record labels indulging artists are pretty much gone now,” said one industry figure.
“No more American divas coming in on private planes with teams of stylists, hairdressers, chefs etc.
“The UK had a very bad Christmas for record sales; this is the end of the line for divas.”
Another source confirmed that Sony BMG cut short visits from American singers Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson last year as they promoted their new records.
“It costs too much to have them here for long,” he said. “They insist on having a stylist with an assistant, hair stylist with assistant, a make-up artist with an assistant, etc etc, all of whom have to be paid for.
"No-one in the industry has the money to put up with it any more.”
One of Warner Music’s biggest mistakes last year was an album released by socialite Paris Hilton. It sold just 13,000 copies, a disaster made worse by the money spent on the heiress and her entourage.
One source claims that she brought 14 people with her to the UK including three security guards, two tour managers (despite there being no tour) and three American publicists.
A week’s accommodation at the exclusive Metropolitan hotel on London’s Park Lane came to around £160,000. The entourage was flown to Britain in either first or business class.
One six-piece American rock band are being challenged by their label over their need for a personal bodyguard each to fly to the UK – despite them being less than recognisable in Britain.
As the Brit Awards nominations were announced on Tuesday in front of jubilant pop fans in London, there was no mistaking the behind-the-scenes gloom that has descended over the music industry.
A friend of Alain Levy and David Munns said: “They are hard-nosed businessmen. If they can’t make this industry work, no-one can.”
Other insiders professed astonishment at recent EMI business decisions.
As internet sensation Lily Allen picked up three Brit nominations, one pointed out: “When Lily suddenly broke and she was the hottest artist in the UK, you could buy her album for £6 or so in HMV.
“That was price-cutting to try and compete with cheaper downloads. But if there was any time fans would be prepared to pay the proper price, it was then.”
It has not been the only miscalculation that haunts EMI. Rumours have it that around £800,000 was spent on the return of Nineties girl band All Saints. The album failed to hit the heights and shows no signs of being resuscitated.
Robbie Williams received an £80million deal from EMI in 2002, tying the sure-fire-hit artist to the company.
But this year he turned anti-pop and produced an unusual, uncommercial album called Rudebox that almost seemed wilfully to challenge his status as a pop star. Artistically satisfying, but a flop for EMI.
The company also relied heavily on the new Beatles remix album Love, which failed to perform as expected, and Christmas was the final straw.
But EMI is not alone. Steve Knott, managing director of HMV, left this week after a poor year for the music retailer.
Since the major record companies – Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI – were wrested from the control of enthusiastic music executives in the Nineties and bought by corporations, they have been under constant scrutiny.
Even those at record companies will admit that they are overstaffed and overpaid.
In years gone by a label could take a bad year, confident that its big artists would save the day.
But as soon as bad figures come in, managers are now under pressure from shareholders. This has meant that labels stopped investing in stars who go on to sell long-term and continue to bring in big revenues.
“It’s EMI now but it could be any one of us in a month’s time,” fears a source at one of the label’s rivals. “This is a year of significant change in the music industry, it’s potentially cataclysmic.”
Since 2000, every label has fought a pitched battle against illegal downloading. Despite the huge rise in legal downloads, their worth has not yet made up for the loss in CD sales.
While the music industry buried its head in the sand and declined to sell downloads, it let computer company Apple take over.
This week Apple published record profits, with figures up 78 per cent on last year. Apple now sets the prices of downloads – the future of music – not the record companies.
And they are low because Apple makes no money from music sales, merely from the hardware, like the iPod, that music is played on.
Source: Daily Express
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