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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 14:22 GMT
Profile: British music giant EMI
News that EMI has cut up to 2,000 of its 5,500 staff worldwide as part of an overhaul of the company marks the latest chapter in a turbulent few months for the record label.

Singer Chris Martin
Coldplay are reportedly considering their future with EMI

In August last year, private equity group Terra Firma bought the firm for 3.2bn after a dramatic decline in sales - in May the company announced it had made a 260m loss for 2006/2007.

Its share of the British album market also dropped from 16% to 9% last year.

Like all labels, EMI - one of the world's big four - has been hit by the boom in digital downloads. Disappointing sales for a number of recent high-profile album releases have added to the company's woes.

Upon the announcement of the takeover, the company's shares immediately climbed 3.8%.

But it was not long before some of EMI's major artists began to question the ability of a private equity group to handle their musical output.

McCartney departure

Following the deal, rock band Radiohead walked out of EMI, with the band's Thom Yorke later saying music was being "devalued" by the involvement of a private equity firm treating bands "as simply part of their stock".

EMI ARTISTS
Sex Pistols
Iron Maiden
Frank Sinatra
Kate Bush
Lily Allen
Pet Shop Boys
Depeche Mode

That followed the huge blow caused by the March departure of Sir Paul McCartney, ahead of the takeover.

Sir Paul branded his former label "boring", saying the company's handling of his material had become "symbolic of the treadmill".

Recent reports suggest two of EMI's other biggest-selling artists, Kylie Minogue and Coldplay, are both considering their future with the label.

And last week, Robbie Williams' manager Tim Clark told the Times his client would not deliver his new record to EMI because "we have no idea how EMI will market and promote the album".

The sense of a changing guard at the label was compounded last week by the resignation of UK chief executive Tony Wadsworth - who signed many of the label's current roster - after 25 years.

But new owner Guy Hands says the restructuring will "improve every area of the business" and will allow more investment in finding new talent.

Major acquisitions

Labels owned by EMI include Parlophone, Mute and Virgin as well as dance imprint Positiva and classical label EMI Classics.

It came into being, as Electric and Music Industries, in 1931 from a merger of the UK Columbia Gramophone Company and the Gramophone Company.

In 1957, EMI made a major acquisition, when it took over major US label Capitol Records - home to Elvis Presley.

The company continued to enjoy enormous success in pop music.

Mick Jagger
EMI bought Virgin - home to the Rolling Stones - in 1992

In 1962, EMI signed the Beatles - now estimated to have sold more than one billion records worldwide - and the group's back catalogue is arguably its biggest asset.

Pink Floyd were also signed to the label in the 1960s followed by Queen in the 1970s.

EMI continued to dominate in the following two decades with huge CD sales.

Acquisitions in that time included Chrysalis Records in 1991 and Richard Branson's Virgin Records - home to the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson - a year later.

In 1998, talks about a merger with London-based rival Universal fell through.

EMI's 2007 rejection of a bid from US rival Warner Music ultimately paved the way for the Terra Firma takeover.

In recent years, the company and its labels have enjoyed success with artists including the Spice Girls and singer Joss Stone.

But analysts say that, while the Spice Girls and Stone have cracked the US market, other British acts, including Robbie Williams, have failed to make the same impact.

They say the label must become more successful in the lucrative American market if it is to revive its fortunes.

SEE ALSO
EMI set to cut up to 2,000 jobs
15 Jan 08 |  Business
Robbie Williams 'goes on strike'
11 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
McCartney brands label 'boring'
14 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Music giant EMI agrees takeover
21 May 07 |  Business

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