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Can an artist choose to leave a record company if he/she is unhappy?

Generally, not. It would be contractually very unusual for an artist to have this right, as the continuation (or not) of the term of a contract is almost invariably in the control of the record company through the exercise (or not) of so-called ‘options’ for the delivery of more recordings. Note: This explains why artists sometimes feel compelled to take drastic legal action by alleging breach of contract in order to break free.

Is there any truth behind all the multi-million pound deals we hear about in the media?

Yes, there is some truth in this. However, the amounts in such reports are usually exaggerated by virtue of not necessarily being money that the artist is guaranteed to receive. When you hear an artist has just re-negotiated a $50 million deal, it usually means that this is the amount that the record company might have to pay over a period of years, if it were to choose to exercise all the relevant options for every possible recording delivered under contract, and if they were all as commercially successful as anticipated in the contract.