Robbie might be onto something by selling himself off to private investors. While the recent publicity around his proposed intentions might be a bargaining chip / cry for help from EMI, his manager is correct in saying that Robbie dosent really require a label anymore to co-ordinate his career. Marketing, touring, distribution - all could be outsourced to various third parties.
As Robbie Williams is now an established brand, he no longer needs the umbrella of a label to nurture his career. And his brand has strong investment potential - with a proven track record and fan base.
I guess what is missing is the trajectory - where is his career going? Whilst Madonna could guarantee Live Nation that she could generate returns on her mega-tours (even despite any potential flagging album sales) - and Bowie's "bond" strategy was aligned to his constant innovation (although they faired as well as his subsequent material ...) - Robbie has been a bit hit and miss lately.
Certainly the prospect of him reuniting with Take That would send the price of Robbie shares rocketing - but without this carrot venture captialists might be wondering how they will recoup their investment. Still it poses food for thought - with artists increasingly in control of their own catalogue, finding good business partners could be more lucrative than being tied into contracts with unsupportive labels.
Image from Flickr by fortyseven