Sunday, January 14, 2007

On the make? The sweet price of failure...

Someone apparently on a downward career path is Alain Levy, chief executive of EMI's recorded music business. The division is performing poorly, particularly in the US market where it had not one album in the 2006 top ten sellers, and he has been fired. I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever as regards his current plight.

It is true that he 'carries the buck' and has paid the price for what are essentially long-standing corporate management failings that have been blindingly obvious for ages. He could however have acted swiftly to fix them and he was paid (handsomely) presumably to do just that? My humble opinion is that if he couldn't see a way to do it then he should never have accepted the job in the first place.
It started boldly enough: Levy rescinded Mariah Cary's recording contact on his arrival at EMI. (She then promptly signed the biggest live performance contract in music history - basically to belt out her hits in Las Vegas forever!)
The artists are not, for the most part at least, at fault but the bloated self-justifying management structure certainly is and he has utterly failed to tackle it. It is amazingly easy to end an artists' contract but, strangely enough, not those of executives.

So what has redundancy cost M. Levy?
It would seem about £7 million ($14 million) --- paid to his bank account. That is reported as being the aggregate of a year's salary, bonuses already agreed (for doing what?) and the buying back of his share options. Oh - the sweet price of failure!

Try selling that line to aspiring artists and bands that work their a**es off touring, with nothing more realistic than the hope of modest success. The 'majors' still don't learn from their mistakes and wonder, with incredulity exceeded only by their astounding arrogance, why new talent is increasingly opting for the far more modest deals offered by the '
independent' labels. Once again the 'majors' have proved themselves to be their own worst enemy - and it also fails their many passionate employees as well as artists - but it is the one thing they seem to be unfailingly good at!

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