Stones deny label move from EMI

Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:50am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - The Rolling Stones have played down a weekend report that the band planned to ditch long-term record company EMI to join concert promoter Live Nation.

But industry experts still believe the British group could soon part ways with the label, which was taken private in 2007 and has struggled to keep some of its biggest artists.

"We are not in talks with Live Nation in connection with any record deal," London-based Rolling Stones spokesman Bernard Doherty said on Monday, reading from a brief statement.

EMI was not immediately available for comment.

The Observer weekly newspaper reported on Sunday that the Stones were on the verge of ending their relationship of more than 30 years with EMI and were "close to clinching a deal with Live Nation." It quoted unspecified "sources."

The report also said the band, a hugely successful touring act estimated to have sold over 200 million albums worldwide, would allow Live Nation to market its back catalogue, depriving EMI of about three million pounds ($5.9 million) a year.

Live Nation Inc already has deals with Madonna and Jay-Z, reportedly worth $120 million and $150 million respectively, as artists look beyond traditional recording deals to tap into increasingly lucrative touring and merchandising revenues.

Profits from music sales have been badly dented by online piracy, and record companies are struggling to come up with answers to declining demand for physical CDs.

EMI lost two of its biggest acts in 2007 -- Paul McCartney and Radiohead. The former Beatle struck a deal with coffee retailer Starbucks while Radiohead offered their album "In Rainbows" online in a "pay-what-you-want" scheme.   Continued...

<p>Rolling Stones band members Keith Richards (2nd R), Mick Jagger (R), Ronnie Wood (2nd L) and Charlie Watts smile as they arrive at the premiere of the documentary film "Shine A Light" about them directed by Martin Scorsese in New York March 30, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>