McKay Shakes Columbia Loose

Nellie McKay and Columbia Records have parted ways and, at the same time, the label has said goodbye to its chief, Will Botwin.

McKay leaves the label just as four-star reviews are appearing for her upcoming sophomore album, Pretty Little Head.

Columbia parent Sony recently dodged a bullet when Fiona Apple, signed to Epic, released Extraordinary Machine under her own terms after the label reportedly tried to interfere with her creative effort, resulting in a short retirement by the artist. The dispute ended amicably, with the album getting stupendous reviews.

McKay, on the other hand, recently detailed her disputes with Columbia while onstage at Los Angeles’ Troubadour, saying the label wanted to cut her 65-minute, 23-song album to 16 songs and 48 minutes. She urged audience members to write Botwin in protest, giving them his e-mail addy.

Her 2004 Get Away From Me, by the way, was the first double-album debut ever for a female artist and it sold more than 100,000 units.

It appears McKay has walked away from Columbia with the album under her arm. She recently told the Los Angeles Times how she plans to release the album: via the Internet in January and in a conventional format around February, prior to her April appearance in “The Threepenny Opera” on Broadway.

McKay added that Botwin’s exit hastened the end of her contract with Columbia.

A spokesperson for the label had no comment.

The artist is also reportedly working on a film musical with “Threepenny” director Scott Elliott.