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The below story from the Mirror Group of newspapers appeared on electronic newswires today. We have reprinted it verbatim as we believe it to contain a number of facts that have not previously come to light.

The Mirror May 15, 2002, Wednesday
Pages 11,12
LENGTH: 1394 words
BYLINE: Paul Martin
LEGEND: But Jacko may lose his "King of Pop" crown due to poor sales

MICHAEL Jackson and his record company boss Tommy Mottola are at war over the music legend's fading career.

The self-styled "King of Pop" has sold more than 120million albums in a 24-year solo career with the giant Sony corporation but in an astonishing attack, Jackson, 42, accused the company's chief Tommy Mottola of:

SABOTAGING his career by refusing to release any singles from his latest album Invincible, which would have helped world-wide sales of the struggling record, FAILING to advertise and promote the album during a record-breaking US television special about the superstar and WRECKING possible plans to sign a lucrative record contract with another label. Troubled Jacko has told close friends that he is disgusted with the treatment he has received.

A pal said: "Michael wants out of Sony, and he believes that some of the highest people in that company are hoping to make him pay the price for his disloyalty.

"The company has have stopped all promotion on the Invincible album, prevented him from releasing singles and basically sabotaged his career. "Jackson is furious at Mottola and any working relationship they had is now over".

"They are the two most powerful men in music going head to head in an all out war."

Poor sales of Invincible, the star's seventh for Sony-owned Epic Records, has sparked the bitter row which has been kept a secret until now.

Mottola, 52, former husband of Mariah Carey, is probably the most powerful man in the music business.

Bob Dylan, Ricky Martin and Destiny's Child are just some of the major stars on his Sony roster.

Jackson, however, has failed to recapture his 80's popularity which saw his Thriller and Bad albums sell 52million and 25million copies to date.

Invincible, his first album in six years, went to No1 in the UK and US album charts, but sank without trace within weeks.

Now Jacko believes the feud has been triggered by his shrewd business ventures which will entitle him to 50 per cent of Sony's revenue even if he leaves the record label.

In 1995 Jackson merged his music publishing catalogue, which contains more than 1,000 songs including 251 Beatles titles, with Sony's publishing catalogue. Sony and Jackson share the cash in a 50-50 split of the catalogue earnings, which DOESN'T include his own albums.

Jackson fulfiled his contractual obligation to Sony by releasing Invincible - and a future greatest hits album - and wants to leave the company while still making a huge profit from them.

The source said: "Tommy Mottola is angered by all this to say the least. Michael believes that Tommy wants to make sure that all the time and money invested over the three-year Invincible project will be lost.

"Michael sees it as a punishment for him outsmarting the corporate minds of a record company that is already in financial difficulty."

But music industry insiders say Jackson is merely the victim of his own bad career move.

One said: "Michael borrowed millions from Sony to make Invincible and the album has done so badly that he can't raise enough money from sales to pay it back.

"Now Michael is blaming Sony for the poor sales, so he has a reason not to come up with the money.

"But Sony will have a cemented contract which will cover them. They are not even obliged to put up a billboard advertising his album if they don't want to."

Jackson appeared to be as popular as ever when he launched his album last October amid a blaze of publicity.

He staged two Jackson Five reunion concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden to mark his comeback. Both concerts sold out in FIVE hours grossing more than $12million.

The shows were then televised by CBS last November netting a record-breaking 26million viewers - the most watched TV speciality programme in that network's history.

But sources claim that despite requests from the star his record company failed to place a television advert publicising his new album during the broadcast.

The insider said: "It was crazy. It was the perfect platform to sell the album to a massive TV audience.

"Sony claimed CBS had no airspace for the advert. Jackson again put in the request for a repeat airing of the show in January but they said there was no air space - this is bizarre when the show on TV is a Michael Jackson concert."

Then Jackson recorded an all-star tribute to the Victims of September 11 which included stars such as Ricky Martin, Destiny's Child, Shakira, Celine Dion and Gloria Estefan.

But despite the commercial power of such a line up Sony did not release the song, much to Jackson's bewilderment.

The source added: "This song was to raise money for charity and there's no doubt that it had so many stars involved that it could have been a success.

"Jackson offered to create a Sony Play- station game which would have attracted considerable interest.

"He also offered to participate in film ventures for Sony Pictures for no fee as a part of his own promotional effort."

Neither offer was accepted, said the source.

Jackson's sudden loss of popularity has baffled the music industry and fans alike.

His last major album, History, released in 1995, was the biggest selling double album of all time. He toured and sold out arenas around the world including the RDS in Dublin and Wembley Stadium for three nights.

Then in 1997 he released Blood On The Dance Floor as a re-mix album. Despite critics in the media branding it a failure, it was the biggest selling re-mix album of all time.

Yet by the end of March Sony had deleted Invincible from their international priority list of projects.

As a comparison, his last album History didn't cease to be an international priority until more than TWO years after its release.

A source said: "Even if Michael walks out of Sony today he gets half the revenue that many of their artists are bringing in.

"That's a bitter pull to swallow for bosses at the company who probably feel that Michael has outwitted them.

"In retaliation they are making it as difficult as possible for Michael to be appealing to any record company.

"Poor album sales, a lack of promotion and the frustration this will cause amongst fans will really hinder Michael's ambitions.

"Lots of the fans have started to think that Michael is not interested in music any more and has given up.

"But this couldn't be further from the truth. Even when he launched Invincible late last year he was working around the clock to make it a success. He even staged a record signing in New York where thousands of fans got to meet him - he had never done that before.

"What has happened can not be put down to simple indifference.

"Only five years ago Michael was still on top of the pop world and selling millions of records. He is still regarded by people in the music industry as the most talented and gifted artist in the world.

"Record companies would still fall over themselves to sign him up and he has already received a number of high profile offers.

"It's only a matter of time before Michael signs up with a new company and he's determined to overcome this problem.

"Despite the rumours that have been created around him he is still determined to keep a high profile in the music business. Michael believes he is still a big player in the music business and all the facts to date would still suggest that.

"But because the album has dropped away so quickly many are presuming that Jackson has lost the old magic.

"It just doesn't make sense that his new album has disappeared without trace."

Despite the feud, Jackson has continued to command a high profile in the music world.

In January he was named the Artist of the Century at the prestigious American Music Awards.

In March he made an appearance as best man at childhood friend Liza Minelli's wedding to David Gest.

Meanwhile, rumours have been circulating that he is in financial difficulty and struggling to pay off a number of loans.

It was recently revealed that he is so short of cash he had to pawn a pounds 1.4million watch to get a loan.

But Jackson, who owns a zoo and employs 120 staff at his Neverland ranch in California, insists that he has nothing to worry about. He added: "I'm comfortable and well looked after. I don't have to worry about money."


OFF THE WALL (1978) - Jackson's debut solo album sold 14 million copies, launching him to world stardom.
THRILLER (1982) - Still the world's best selling album of all time with 52 million copies sold to date.
BAD (1987) - With more than 25 million copies sold, Bad became the second biggest selling album of all time.
DANGEROUS (1991) - With 26 million album sales
HISTORY (1995) The best-selling double album of all time with 14 million sales - the equivalent of 28 million discs.
BLOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR (1997) - The best selling remix album of all time with five million copies sold
INVINCIBLE (2001) - Went straight to No1 in the UK and US album charts. But disappeared from trace after just one month.


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