London-based EMI, the world's third largest record company, announced that it will cut 1,500 jobs and one-fifth of its artist roster amid continued slumping sales.
Among EMI's cuts will be the closing of two CD and DVD manufacturing plants, one in Jacksonville, Illinois, the other in the Netherlands. Several of the company's smaller labels — including Higher Octave and Narada — will be merged as part of the restructuring. No specific artists were named as victims of the cutbacks, but the company reportedly said that those trimmed from the roster would be "niche and underperforming artists" primarily in Europe. Among the label's non-niche talent are the Rolling Stones, Norah Jones and Coldplay.
According to EMI, sales through March 2004 were about the same as they were a year ago, but the figure in 2003 was down eleven percent from 2002. The cost-cutting is expected to save the company approximately $92 million annually.