Jackson and her attorney Don Passman declined comment, but sources say that her 1991 Virgin contract includes an unprecedented provision that enables her to take bids from rival labels for the rights to her upcoming album--even though she's released only one Virgin album. Most contracts require artists to deliver three to six albums before they become free agents again.
It was Jackson's multimillion-dollar pact with Virgin that four years ago triggered a string of multimillion-dollar deals in the record industry for such stars as Prince, Madonna, the Rolling Stones and Janet's brother Michael.
Among the rival firms rumored to be interested in Jackson: Sony Music-financed Work Group, run by former Virgin execs Jeff Ayeroff and Jordan Harris, and DreamWorks SKG, the new company founded by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The guessing is that the 28-year-old superstar is likely to stay with Virgin, with EMI Music stepping up to the plate with a lucrative offer.