THE BLOG
19/10/2011 07:33 BST | Updated 19/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Guy Hands Knees and Boomps-a-Daisy

Guy Hands is still hanging on. At least he thinks he is. Two weeks ago he started an action against Citibank claiming they grabbed EMI from him wrongfully.

Guy Hands is still hanging on. At least he thinks he is.

Two weeks ago he started an action against Citibank claiming they grabbed EMI from him wrongfully. Citibank have been trying to sell EMI for 4 billion dollars but the offers they've received so far have come in at less. At the end of this week they may decide to put the sale on hold. Mr Hands feels, as long as the company is still owned by them he still has hope. Everyone else sees it differently - he's lost and he's wasting his time.

You may remember Guy Hands turned up in 2007 to buy EMI when it was doing rather badly. He claimed to have a golden touch. He said he'd 'seen the way'. No more of this music business crap of putting artists first and kowtowing to talent - if artists didn't do as he said and touch their cap to him, out they'd go.

The city was enamoured of Mr Hands. They discussed him in reverential terms and ran articles about his ability to do something new and striking in the music business where others had failed. But anyone with an eye for the ineffective could see at once he wasn't the right person to handle the situation. It's astonishing, but it's a male failing to prefer to listen to a man's words rather than open their eyes and look at the man who's spouting them. And in this case, it wasn't really the man you had to look at, just the mop of carefully coiffed golden hair on top of his head.

Anyone who'd been around the music business a while had seen it all before - an executive who arrives in the industry from somewhere a good deal less glamorous and is overwhelmed by the new world of stars. Mr Hands was in love with money, perhaps. But he was in love with Guy Hands even more. He turned up all full of himself and started jetting round the world attending parties with the who's who of the entertainment business - star-struck, but mainly with his own star quality.

Guy Hands had made a killing by buying up motorway service areas in Germany and installing nice bathroom facilities, something they'd always lacked. The bathroom facilities at EMI weren't too bad, so looking for ways to improve things he decided in future the company would no longer be bullied by its artists.

'If they're not satisfied,' he announced, 'they can leave.'

Radiohead did. Then Paul McCartney. For a while Robbie Williams refused to honour his contract, then so did Gorillaz and Coldplay.

'Never mind - we'll invest in finding new talent,' said Mr Hands.

The poor man hadn't a clue. The cost of finding new artists, breaking them, and building them into guaranteed income is greater than any demand an established artist might make for more royalties. It's not just the cost of searching out new talent; it's the the 10-to-one signing ratio needed to produce a hit, followed by the the 10-to-one ratio between those who get that first hit and those who go on to become substantial sellers of albums. To let Radiohead go was as clever as buying a bank and throwing out the gold in the vault because 'it's taking up too much space'. One thing you never ever do is let a profitable artist leave you. Anyone in the industry with half a brain knows that, but Mr Hands - brash, blond and boot-headed - wasn't from the industry.

It got worse. The Rolling Stones were next to go; then in America, Joss Stone; and after 25 years, the UK's chief executive, Tony Wadsworth. Then Mr Hands closed down EMI's operations in South East Asia, which everyone with any business sense at all knows is the future of just about everything.

In due course, as could be predicted, doom arose and engulfed him. Citibank, from whom he'd borrowed the money to buy the company, took possession of EMI.

In the end it all came down to pride. When he first bought EMI, Mr. Hands was shocked to discover that artists took drugs and stayed up late; they weren't interested in the difficulties of running a record company and only wanted higher royalties. When he met them and complained they gave him shit.

His reaction caused his downfall. Installing new toilets to make money from service stations had taught him shit was best flushed away. But anyone who deals regularly with artists could have told him - sometimes it's better swallowed. It's the golden rule of artist management - 'Never let pride pre-empt pragmatism'.

So he lost EMI. And so did Britain. Which is a bit of a pity.

But that's Guy Hands for you - a bit-of-a-pity sort of chap.