Universal Music Group has reached an agreement with the family of Frank Zappa to acquire the entire estate of the legendary rocker-composer, including his prolific catalog, film archives, publishing rights and massive “Vault” of material. unpublished.
The agreement between Universal Music Publishing Group, Universal Music Enterprises – which has distributed Zappa’s posthumous releases for the past decade – and the Zappa Family Trust also includes the rights to Zappa’s name and unmistakable likeness. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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“Ten years ago, [Frank’s late widow] Gail Zappa has partnered with UMe to bring Frank Zappa’s music into the digital age and help grow Frank Zappa’s business worldwide, setting in motion a successful partnership that has resulted in exponential growth,” the Zappa Family Trust said in a statement Thursday.
“Together, over the past decade, we’ve made Frank’s vast catalog of music available for streaming and download, reissued many of his crucial albums on vinyl, created a host of exciting archival releases and massive box sets, including a series celebrating FZ’s legendary Halloween concerts, and were nominated for a Grammy for the 200 Motels (The Suites) orchestral album. UMG has more than proven its passion for Frank’s art and the entire Zappa family – Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva – are thrilled to hand over to the new stewards forever for all things Frank Zappa. Fans old and new will get more of what they want – more Frank Zappa music for years to come.
The acquisition marks a “full loop moment” for Zappa’s catalog, as he released the first classic Mothers of Inventions in 1966 Pinball! on Verve Records; this label now resides under the umbrella of UMG. “More than five decades later, we know his music and his legacy will be in good hands for generations to come,” added the Zappa Family Trust.
The UMG deal has the approval of all four of Zappa’s children – Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva – despite the family feud that erupted in 2016 over the estate following Gail’s death in October 2015. Three years earlier, in 2012, Gail and UMG struck a deal to bring Zappa’s catalog to streaming services, as well as distribute re-releases and a steady stream of unreleased material extracted from “The Vault” storage facility where the recordings reside. Zappa’s studio, live tapes and films.
“It has been a privilege to work with the Zappa family to bring Frank Zappa’s music to the world, grow his audience and protect his legacy over the past decade,” said the President and CEO of the UMe, Bruce Resnikoff, in a statement.
“Zappa was a pioneering and visionary artist who created incredible work and we are incredibly proud that Gail, and now her children, have entrusted her important legacy to us. We will continue to develop innovative ways to celebrate his vast and influential catalog for both longtime fans and those new to his genius. As a prolific artist well ahead of his time, Frank Zappa was constantly creating and recording and he left a treasure trove of extraordinary yet unreleased music and videos in his vault that will help us usher in the next era of Frank fans. Zappa.
Recent posts from UMG and the Zappa Family Trust include a deep dive into mothers 200 Hotelsa recent live box set featuring three concerts in the mid-’70s Rust Belt region, Zappa’s last US concert in 1988, the complete release of the famous Fillmore East shows by The Mothers in 1971, and the soundtrack of the famous Alex Winter directed by Zappa documentary.
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