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EMI to axe 1500 jobs, 300 artists

Exit from CD, DVD manufacturing paves way for online future?

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British 'top five' music company EMI will rid itself of 1500 employees and 20 per cent of its artist roster - some 300-odd acts - it admitted today.

And in what could be seen as a acceptance of a download-centric future for the music market, the company said it plans to cease pressing its own CDs and DVDs in Europe and the US.

For now, at least, the company's motivation to make the changes is the need to cut costs. The redundancies, roster-rejig and plant closures will cost it £155m up front - £75m in cash, £80m in non-cash items - but will lead to savings of "at least" £50m a year. EMI's current financial year comes to a close at the end of this month.

For all the music industry's fears over illegal file sharing, EMI said that its current fiscal year has seen album sales match those made last year.

EMI will close its US manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, Illinois and sell off its European plant in Hilversum, the Netherlands to MediaMotion. Instead, the company will pursue manufacturing partnerships with third-party suppliers, reducing costs and allowing it to more effectively ease back output as consumers increasingly buy music online.

The company wouldn't say which artists are for the chop, stating only that niche bands and "under-performing" acts would go. ®

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