EMI’s exec cues exit

Bandier may sing new tune

EMI’s Marty Bandier, the exec credited with turning the company’s publishing biz into a revenue powerhouse, is ankling the diskery.

Bandier confirmed Monday to company execs who’d gathered in New York for a financial meeting that he would depart in six months (this lag time is required under his contract).

Music biz on Monday was awash in rumors that Bandier would be making the jump to Warner/Chappell, a primary EMI Publishing competitor.

In an interview, exec was circumspect about his next step but did hint that a move to a competitor could be coming. “Watch this space,” he said. “It’s time for me to absorb the alternatives I may have and draw some conclusions in the near future.”

A Bandier move to Warner/Chappell would mark a dramatic turnaround in the publishing world. It was just a few months ago that Warner Music was reportedly interested in acquiring EMI precisely because the British diskery’s publishing division was seen as more profitable than WMG’s unit.

Bandier had been thought to be planning an exit, but not until 2008. Now he will be gone by April, and possibly earlier if the parties can agree to end his contract.

News is a further blow to EMI, which earlier in the month reported a 3% drop in sales for the first half of the year and also disclosed that accounting fraud in its Brazilian businesses caused it to misstate earnings.

Bandier had been with EMI for 17 years, helping to turning the company’s deep but neglected catalog into a revenue trove and ensuring that barely a musical note was played in a movie or television show — not to mention on a cell phone — without a record company seeing revenue from it.

Bandier said he’s confident that while many catalogs are being mined, publishing divisions can continue as one of the music biz’s most reliable categories. “There’s a lot of life in it,” he said. “Good music doesn’t go out of style.”

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