An upbeat EMI Group chairman Eric Nicoli today (July 14) told investors at the company's annual meeting that it was poised to achieve an "improved performance" for its current financial year thanks in

An upbeat EMI Group chairman Eric Nicoli today (July 14) told investors at the company's annual meeting that it was poised to achieve an "improved performance" for its current financial year thanks in part to the international success of album releases from Coldplay and Gorillaz in the first few months.

Furthermore, the executive whet the appetite of attendees with the firm's planned release schedule for the financial period, which includes upcoming new studio sets from Robbie Williams, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Kate Bush, among others.

"The group has delivered a solid performance during the first few months of our financial year," Nicoli said, "with total revenues and operating profits for the year to date running ahead of last year's levels in both our recorded music division, EMI Music, and EMI Music Publishing."

Nicoli also confirmed that the London-based major was anticipating a greatest hits package of John Lennon songs. The project, sanctioned by Yoko Ono, will mark the birthday of the late artist who would have been 65 on Oct. 9, 2005.

Additionally, Nicoli said the continuing rise in the digital music sector was underpinning a return to growth both for EMI and the wider music industry. The consumer shift to digital formats could be "monumental," he noted. In the first quarter, EMI's digital revenues were more than double those in the same period last year, according to Nicoli, and accounted for 4.8% of total revenue. In the previous three-month period, digital sales represented 3.5% of the company's revenue. "We expect consumer uptake of legitimate digital music to be the key industry growth driver in the coming years," Nicoli added.

Executives at EMI also used the platform of the meeting to reiterate their commitment to domestic repertoire. EMI's music publishing division was in "good shape," Nicoli stated, and would continue to build on its "stunning record" of success with local repertoire, which includes the signing of current U.K. albums chart leader James Blunt for representation.

Moreover, speaking during the A&Q part of the session, EMI Music chairman/CEO Alain Levy identified China, the world's most populous territory, as a priority region for EMI. The surge in consumer uptake for digital music and government-assisted crackdowns on piracy made the country "a major area of growth" for EMI, Levy said.

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