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EMI Cost-Cutting Boosts Earnings

LONDON (VIP-NEWS) — Music giant EMI tripled its earnings over the past year, helped by cost-cutting measures that reportedly caused a near-revolt by its artists.

The company generated underlying earnings of £163m between March 2008 and 2009, against £51m the year before.

It is the first full year EMI has been under the ownership of the private equity group Terra Firma.

In 2008, the new owners shed 2,000 of EMI's 5,500 members of staff worldwide, which saved it £48m this year.

Radiohead exit

Senior members of EMI's board also lost their jobs in the takeover, leading to fears the label would lose its creative edge.

Elio Leoni-Sceti, EMI chief executive
Radiohead, one of the label's biggest acts, left EMI saying the new owners did not understand the music industry.

At the time, Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien said: "It's been taken over by somebody who's never owned a record company before."

The band's lead singer Thom Yorke later claimed music was being "devalued" by the involvement of a private equity firm treating bands "as simply part of their stock".

There were also reports Robbie Williams was refusing to make another album for EMI because he was worried the new management would not know how to promote it properly.

Warning to artists

More change was to come when Guy Hands, the owner of Terra Firma, imposed a new approach towards rewarding artists.

He warned them EMI would no longer promote musicians who demanded big advances on the salaries but did not deliver the hits.

Like other record companies EMI has suffered in recent years because of the decline in sales of CDs.

However, EMI said 35% of its income in the past year was generated by non-physical sales, such as music downloads over the internet.

"There is still a great deal of work to be done to restore EMI to its former greatness," said Elio Leoni-Sceti, who was hired last year as EMI's new chief executive.

He added the group could not afford to become "complacent".

The company said Coldplay's Viva La Vida album was their most successful product, claiming it was the world's best selling album in 2008.

EMI is due to release Robbie Williams' latest album later in this year.