David Bowie and Pink Floyd albums will be targeted by EMI’s revamped catalogues and compilations division to try to develop new sources of growth in the struggling British music major.
The idea is to develop the success that EMI has had in repackaging music from the Beatles and Queen and build on a business that EMI said accounted for as much a third of its overall recorded music sales, and somewhat more of its profits.
In an sign of the importance that Terra Firma, EMI’s owner, attaches to reviving the corporate back catalogue, the private equity group has put Stephen Alexander in charge of the division. He is a close colleague of Guy Hands, the private equity group’s boss.
Mr Alexander, on his first day in the job, said that EMI had “not unversally applied” the treatment that it had given to the Beatles. “If you look at the recordings of David Bowie, it’s not clear that we have done them anything like justice,” he said.
However, Mr Alexander conceded that it might not be so easy to persuade ageing superstars to agree to another rerelease of familiar material. He said: “I’m told that he [Bowie] is not always easy to persuade, but we’ll try to see if we can work up serious plans that have credibility. We don’t know for certain where it will go, and maybe I’m being naive, but hopefully it will work.”
EMI holds the rights to much of Bowie’s catalogue, with albums ranging from Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, first released in 1972, to Let’s Dance a decade later. It also controls Pink Floyd’s catalogue, although it is hard to see how Terra Firma could do better with Dark Side of the Moon, which has sold an estimated 40 million worldwide.
The music company’s two most recent Beatles rereleases, the 1 compilation released in 2000, and Love, produced in 2006, have sold 27 million and five million copies, respectively.
Oh joy, yet more re-releases?!