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EMI seeks to buy out Mariah Carey contract-report

It didn’t take long for the glitter of pop diva Mariah Carey’s new multimillion-dollar record deal with EMI Group Plc to lose its luster. Three months after the commercial flop of her first EMI release, the British-based music giant is seeking to buy out Carey’s contract by offering her a huge lump-sum payment in exchange for her departure from EMI’s Virgin Records label, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The Times put the value of Carey’s EMI contract at $80 million for four albums, although other reports have said she signed for as much as $118 million for five albums.

Representatives for Carey, EMI, or Virgin Records could not be reached for comment.

EMI signed Carey in April after the singer had endured an increasingly unhappy stint at Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment, which is run by her ex-husband, Tommy Mottola.

Her shift to Virgin came at an awkward time for Carey, described by some observers as caught between teen stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, and more adult performers such as fellow Virgin artist Janet Jackson.

“Glitter,” Carey’s debut album at Virgin and the soundtrack to the film she starred in, sold a disappointing two million copies worldwide since its release in September. By comparison, her 1993 album “Music Box,” released by Sony, sold more than 20 million copies domestically and overseas.

Carey is one of numerous high-profile recording acts – among them R.E.M., Macy Gray, and Shelby Lynne – whose latest albums tanked during a year in which the music industry has seen declining sales overall.


The retail fizzle of “Glitter” also capped a personally trying period for Carey, who was hospitalized for a mental and physical breakdown in July and suffered a relapses in September.

Carey’s health limited her availability to do advance promotion for the album and movie, a semiautobiographical film in which she starred as an aspiring young singer who dates a DJ to help her break into the business. “Glitter” the movie did poorly at the box office as well.

According to the Los Angeles Times, EMI agreed in April to pay Carey a $20 million advance for each of four albums under her contract and to provide a $6 million music video production fund and about $1.5 million to promote four singles. Sources cited by the newspaper estimated the label spent more than $10 million to market and promote the ill-fated “Glitter.”

EMI executives are now in talks to pay a multimillion dollar settlement to Carey in return for her agreement to bail out of the label, the Times said.

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