David Bowie may be leaving EMI when his 15-year contract with the record label comes to an end. According to The Financial Times (registration required), both Universal Music and Sony Music are apparently in talks to sign Bowie when the EMI deal terminates in January of 2012.

Though EMI declined to comment, it's apparent that the label has a lot to lose, given they've had the majority of Bowie's classic catalog to work with for so many years. Should a new label acquire the catalog, it's likely that his work will be re-issued again (for the umpteenth time) and fans speculate that uber-deluxe versions may follow.

The recent trend of catalog reissues (Pink Floyd, the Kinks) certainly fuel this logic, and Bowie has never been one to fret over his music being issued in multiple versions and formats. Both EMI and Ryko (who owned the rights prior to EMI) launched their own limited and deluxe packages of Bowie material, but failed to do so in a consistent manner, leaving collectors less than happy. Many of those releases are now out of print.

Bowie's last studio album 'Reality' came out in 2003 and the world tour that followed was likely his last. The amount of time that has passed without anything new from Bowie seems to indicate that the master chameleon is in retirement, and it's wishful thinking to believe that a new label will mean new material. Still, when it comes to Bowie, it's probably safer to avoid making assumptions, as he's an artist who's known to be a character of surprise.