Robbie Williams has left EMI.

The ‘Angels’ singer has been with the record company for his entire solo career – which began in 1997 – and he famously signed an £80 million deal with them in 2002 which covered all aspects of his career, including giving him greater artistic control.

But he has now announced he has joined rivals Universal Music and will release his new album, his first solo material since 2009’s ‘Reality Killed the Video Star’, through the company in 2012.

Robbie is taking a break from Take That – following his successful reunion with the band – and has headed into the studio to lay down new tracks.

He said: “I’m really thrilled to be joining the Universal family at what I think is the most exciting time in my career.”

Chairman of the Universal Music Group Lucian Grainge is thrilled with the new deal and is excited to see what the 37-year-old pop star will come up with.

He said: “What a thrill this announcement is. To be working with Robbie and his team and to have the opportunity to support this incredible stage of his career makes life so exciting.”

Universal Music UK chairman David Joseph also voiced his support, adding what he had heard so far was “very special”.

He said: “Having had the chance to listen to the music I’ve no doubt that Robbie is currently at his most creatively inspired. We are about to witness something very special.”