George Michael has signed a new worldwide recording deal with the U.K. arm of Sony Music, the company he left in the ’90s after a drawn-out court battle, Billboard Bulletin reports. A Sony spokesperson declined to comment on terms of the deal. Michael is currently recording “Patience,” his first album since 1996’s “Older,” for an expected release in early 2004.
The new deal may resurrect Michael’s recording career, which many U.K. press reports dismissed after his last single, “Shoot the Dog” (Polydor), peaked at No. 12 in the territory in May 2002.
In late 1992, Michael went to court in an attempt to break free from his recording contract with Sony Music Entertainment. He parted with the company in 1995, signing with DreamWorks for North America and Virgin elsewhere. Sources close to the negotiations at the time said Sony was to receive a cash sum of $30 million-$40 million as a payment to release Michael. This was to be paid by DreamWorks and Virgin against their earnings from the release of subsequent albums.
“We are delighted to be working again with one of the greatest recording artists this country has ever produced, who has made another classic album,” Sony Music U.K. chairman/CEO Rob Stringer says in a statement.
Sony retains the lion’s share of Michael’s catalog, which the company says has sold in excess of 75 million units over the artist’s career of more than 20 years.