David Bowie has left Virgin Records, his recording home since 1995, in favor of his own label. Bowie formed the ISO label more than a year ago, and he has decided to bring everything in-house now because of unhappiness with Virgin.
Bowie writes on his website (davidbowie.com), “I’ve had one too many years of bumping heads with corporate structure. Many times I’ve not been in agreement with how things are done and, as a writer of some proliferation, frustrated at how slow and lumbering it all is. I’ve dreamed of embarking on my own set-up for such a long time and now is the perfect opportunity.”
Virgin let its chance to keep him on the roster expire when the label failed to exercise an option in Bowie’s last contract. Although talks were underway to continue the relationship, Bowie’s representatives last week notified Virgin, “We respectfully decline your attempts to negotiate a new contract in light of the missed option pick-up of a year ago.”
ISO will release all future Bowie work, including his upcoming, untitled album, which Virgin had on its schedule for March 12 (there’s no word on whether or not that release date will be kept). ISO, with offices in New York and London, also has two other acts on its roster-a solo performer and a band whose names were not released.
Of his label, Bowie says, “I want to keep the whole experience at a human level. To characterize ISO, I think I would use guitarist Robert Fripp’s phrase and describe it as aiming to be ‘a small, mobile, intelligent unit.'” Bowie adds that smaller independent labels are “proving that creativity and commercial success can go hand in hand.”