Mariah Carey And Virgin Part Ways

EMI claims to have paid Carey $28 million as severance.

Mariah Carey awoke this morning to find herself without a label, although a hefty settlement should soften the shock.

The EMI Group, which owns Carey’s now ex-label Virgin Records, announced Wednesday (January 23) that it was dissolving its relationship with the pop diva, according to an EMI publicist. Soon after the initial statement was released, Carey’s publicist claimed the split was amicable. As severance, the media conglomerate claims to have paid Carey $28 million, while Carey’s camp quoted the figure at $49 million — an amount which takes into account the initial $21 million awarded to Carey when the deal was signed and which the singer will retain as part of the contract dissolution.

“This is the right decision for me,” Carey said in her statement. “I look forward to the many new and exciting opportunities which have now been presented to me. I wish Virgin well.”

Carey signed to a four-album deal with Virgin Records last April, which was estimated to be worth $81.6 million.

The news comes on the heels of much industry speculation that the singer would be axed from the label, since her first Virgin album, Glitter, is considered to be one of the biggest commercial disappointments in recent years. The LP has sold just over 500,000 copies in the U.S. since its release September 11, according to SoundScan — a paltry figure compared to some of Carey’s previous albums for former label Columbia. By comparison, 1999′s Rainbow sold more than 2.9 million copies, 1997′s Butterfly sold more than 3.6 million and 1995′s Daydream sold nearly 7.5 million.

Alain Levy, the chairman and CEO of EMI Recorded Music, said in a statement, “We have decided that this is the most prudent course of action for EMI. We wish Mariah the best.”

Carey experienced a nervous breakdown last summer and was forced to curb some of the planned promotion for the album, which may have contributed to the LP’s poor retail showing (see “Mariah Carey Reportedly Under Psychiatric Care Again” ).

For a feature interview with Mariah Carey, check out “Mariah Carey: Looking Out For #1.”