Bold New Deal — or Mariah Carey Redux?

Once a musician is described as a "bad boy icon," his 15 minutes of fame tend to be up. So why is EMI betting the farm on Robbie Williams, the British crooner and former "fat dancer" from Take That who has sold a respectable but unspectacular 692,000 records in the U.S.? Williams's new deal is estimated at around $90 million, the largest ever for a British artist. In part, EMI is playing to the global market; Williams has sold nearly 20 million records worldwide since 1996. But the company has been burned before: in 2001, it signed Mariah Carey for $100...

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