Veteran French vocalist leaves longtime label

French veteran artist Johnny Hallyday has officially requested the termination of his contract with Universal Music France.

A statement issued by his lawyer explains that Hallyday informed Universal of his resignation in a January 5 audience with Paris' labour tribunal, which handles work disputes.

Hallyday has thereby decided to end a 42-year relationship with Universal. Under French law, artist contracts are considered working contracts and can be terminated through procedures lodged at a labour court.

After releasing his first EP on indie label Vogue, Hallyday signed to Philips 42 years ago and later switched to the Phonogram and Mercury label. During his career, Hallyday, born Jean-Philippe Smet, is believed to have sold over 80 million records, according to Universal. Universal owns all of Hallyday's repertoire, save for one EP. His latest two studio albums each sold close to two million units.

In the statement, the 60-year-old rocker said, "This decision is the result of six months' serious thought, and is exclusively motivated by my record label's attitude towards me."

The fallout is allegedly caused by contractual disagreements between Hallyday and Universal. Hallyday was questioning the nature of the relationship with his label, despite the fact that he is believed to have one of the most lucrative contracts in French music business.

In the past six month, Hallyday has been reviewing all his traditional business dealings. He has severed ties with concert promoter Jean-Claude Camus, a relationship that dated back to the early 1960s.

Universal Music France president Pascal Negre had yet to comment at press time.

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