|Mariah Carey gets $49 million in deal to leave
After less than a year and an unsuccessful album, singer Mariah Carey is leaving Virgin Records with a deal giving her $49 million.
EMI, Virgin's parent company, recently announced that it would pay the 31-year-old diva $28 million to end their association, which was to last for several albums to the tune of $100 million.
That's in addition to the $21 million she's already received since arriving at Virgin last April.
Glitter, her first album for Virgin and the soundtrack for her movie of the same name, was a major disappointment. It sold 501,000 copies, according to Soundscan, a sharp drop from the multiplatinum successes the Grammy winner delivered for her previous label, Columbia Records.
The Glitter CD came out after the singer was hospitalized last summer for a much-publicized emotional breakdown. It was followed in September by her equally disappointing movie of the same name, which failed to crack the top 10 in its first week of release and quickly disappeared from theaters.
EMI's new chairman, Alain Levy, said: "We have decided this is the most prudent course of action for EMI. We wish Mariah the best."
Carey said in the joint statement: "This is the right decision for me. I look forward to the many new and exciting opportunities which have now been presented to me. I wish Virgin well."
Carey forged her stardom with a wholesome image and soaring ballads that highlighted her multi-octave voice.
But over the past few years, her image has changed. After her divorce from Tommy Mottola, the former president of Columbia, she became sexier in her concerts and videos. She also switched musically, using more hip-hop beats instead of the adult contemporary pop sound that made her famous.
|From Chicago Sun Time (All rights reserved)
Mariah Carey has visions of revival after 3-disc deal
Her movie flopped, her most recent album fizzled, she had a nervous breakdown, and her label dropped her, but Mariah Carey's star is ready to rise again. The iconic songbird began the next chapter of her storied career Wednesday, signing a new multi- album deal with Universal Music Group that includes her own record label via a partnership with Island Records.
While the terms of the agreement were not disclosed, sources said it's a $20 million deal for three albums with an option for a fourth. Carey already is in the studio recording the first release.
Carey's signing to UMG's Island Def Jam Music Group comes less than six months after her estimated $100 million Virgin Records deal ended with a $49 million buyout. Virgin's decision was based largely on meager sales of Carey's debut album for the label, the soundtrack to the film "Glitter," in which Carey also starred. The album has sold only 535,000 copies, compared to Carey's "Daydream" (1995), which exceeded 7 million copies sold.
"Americans love great comeback stories, and I believe what we're starting here today is going to become part of the mythology of the record business," UMG chairman Doug Morris said.
A recently formed Carey media company will be integrated into the corporation in partnership with Morris, Lyor Cohen of Island and Jimmy Iovine of Interscope. Carey, who entered the studio after her Super Bowl performance with material penned since "Glitter," is collaborating with several producers on songs she describes as "personal" and "fun and celebratory" on the new album.
"Glitter's" disappointing sales and media reports of her "meltdown" did not crush Carey's spirit. "I feel like it was a domino effect, where the ignorance gets passed along," she said. "'Glitter' was a soundtrack record that was a concept album. It was not a studio record. And even still, I feel there were a lot of good songs on there that no one ever heard because they didn't get a chance to. Many multiplatinum artists have been on soundtrack records that were not 'Titanic.' It happens. ... I just exhausted myself trying to work my record the way I knew my record was supposed to be worked. ... And it came out on Sept. 11. There couldn't have been worse odds."
She said, "People are always asking, 'Is everything OK?' Look, I was not depressed; I was freaking exhausted."
Carey, whose indie film "Wisegirls" will debut on Cinemax later this year, said doing things on a smaller scale was a great experience. "['Wisegirls' is] really in the direction that I want to go, and it has gotten me a lot of offers to do other character roles. You live and you learn. It's OK to wait to do something. You don't have to do the 'predictable' thing with the whole studio system. Doing something independent was really freeing and great for me."
Predictably, Carey is shedding no tears over Virgin. When asked if she was glad her deal with the media giant ended, she replied, "That's the understatement of the day."
|Mariah Carey is in a New York recording studio...
Mariah Carey is in a New York recording studio, trying to enjoy a moment's peace. But Jack, her constant companion of several years, won't stop harassing her. She has tried locking him out of the room, but still he persists, pressing against the door and grunting ominously.
Luckily for Carey, Jack is a dog, and not one of the human male variety. The doe-eyed Jack Russell terrier is generally well behaved, in fact, and the diva doesn't seem too bothered by his occasional tantrums. Recent experience has taught her that true friends should be cherished, no matter how many legs they have.
"I've really, really learned the importance of having people around who love me for who I am, not because they see me as a celebrity or a meal ticket," says Carey, sipping soy milk. "And I've learned who those people are. I can't say that anyone I had believed in for a long time disappointed me. But there were some newer people on the scene recently, and when things got too hectic, they weren't there."
She is alluding, of course, to what Queen Elizabeth II would surely agree was Carey's own "annus horribilus." It began in July 2001, when the singer spent two weeks in a private hospital after having what was described as a physical and emotional breakdown. The episode occurred at the worst possible moment: just as Carey was preparing to unleash her most ambitious project yet, a semiautobiographical film called "Glitter" that she had conceived and starred in.
The movie garnered scathing reviews and tanked at the box office. An accompanying soundtrack album also proved a flop, especially for someone whose string of No. 1 singles and multiplatinum albums in the '90s had made her one of the best-selling artists of all time.
To add insult to injury, Carey was then dropped by Virgin Records, which had signed her to a contract worth a reported $80 million only months earlier.
The topper came when Carey's father was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and died last summer. "That put things into perspective," Carey says. "Sometimes you have to go through difficult stuff, either to learn a lesson or maybe reconnect with something that has slipped away a bit. But that's how life is. You may keep getting hit, but you have to just keep on standing up again." And Carey, 32, wants it known that she is still standing. Today she releases "Charmbracelet," a CD that marks the beginning of both a new professional relationship and, Carey says, a new lease on life.
"Charmbracelet" is the first venture of Carey's own label, MonarC Music, which will be distributed through the Island Def Jam division of Universal Music Group. Universal signed Carey to an estimated $20 million deal in May, less than half a year after Virgin gave her the boot with a settlement of nearly $30 million to supplement the more than $20 million she had already collected.
But Carey says her current arrangement was designed more to accommodate her health and sanity than her bank account. She says that after getting out of her original, long-standing contract with Sony Music--whose head honcho, Tommy Mottola, is Carey's ex-husband-- she had limited time to bond with her new family at Virgin or to map out a workable strategy for promoting "Glitter."
"I was with people who didn't really know me, and I had no personal assistant," she says. "I'd be doing interviews all day long, getting two hours of sleep a night, if that. I was burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, and it caught up with me."
Carey maintains that her hospitalization was caused by "a collapse from exhaustion" rather than the more complex psychological or chemical problems some rumors hinted at. "Yes, I was in a bad place emotionally, but anyone would be at that point of total physical depletion. I began seeing a therapist, and he told me, 'Look, you didn't have a nervous breakdown. It's a form of torture not to be allowed to sleep.' He said I had to start setting boundaries in life, to learn how to say no.
"It's taken some people a while to understand that, but now they do. I've actually made up contracts that people who work with me have to sign, so they know I must have lunch breaks and dinner breaks and five or six hours of sleep a night. For so long, I had been so busy taking care of everyone and everything else, including my career, that I forgot about me. But I've learned that there are certain lines that have to be drawn."
Carey's next challenge, however, might involve factors beyond her control. Pop radio isn't as friendly an environment for mature pop divas as it was back in the early-to-mid-'90s heyday of Carey and Celine Dion. The first single from "Charmbracelet," "Through the Rain," is an inspirational ballad in the vein of earlier Carey hits such as "Hero," and thus represents a departure from the uptempo singles she has more recently used to introduce her increasingly hip- hop-driven CDs.
But its success has been less than stunning. According to Airplay Monitor charts director Silvio Pietroluongo, it has fared less well since its September release than recent entries by artists such as Christina Aguilera and "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson--junior divas whose airy riffing and dramatic belting offer virtual facsimiles of Carey's distinctly ornate vocal style.
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Heroes of Mariah 2000