The next instalment of who’s catalogue is it now has seen Universal Music Group acquire the entire estate of rocker-composer and free-form entertainer Frank Zappa.
The deal between Universal and the Zappa Family Trust includes the musician’s prolific song catalogue from across his four-decade career, film archive, publishing rights and huge collection of unreleased material stored in the ‘Vault’ storage facility.
Whilst the terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, the agreement also includes the rights to Zappa’s name and unmistakeable likeness. A statement from Marc Cimino, chief operating officer of Universal Music Publishing Group, has hinted (unsurprisingly these days) at the possibility of Zappa NFTs.
The Zappa Trust and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) have spent the last decade rejuvenating Zappa’s catalogue, through a stream of archival releases, vinyl reissues and other marketing efforts. UMG have said these campaigns have grown Zappa’s streaming by double-digit percentages every year since they began.
“Ten years ago, [Frank’s late widow] Gail Zappa partnered with UMe to bring Frank Zappa’s music into the digital era and help expand the Frank Zappa business around the world, setting in motion a fruitful partnership that has resulted in exponential growth,” the Zappa Family Trust have explained.
“Together over the last decade we made Frank’s vast catalog of music available for streaming and download, reissued many of his pivotal albums on vinyl, created a slew of exciting archival releases and expansive 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 have more than proven their passion for Frank’s art and so the entire Zappa family – Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva – is thrilled to pass the baton to the new forever stewards for all things Frank Zappa. Old and new fans will get more of what they want – more Frank Zappa music for years to come.”
UMe President & CEO Bruce Resnikoff, meanwhile, said of the acquisition: “It has been a privilege to work with the Zappa family to release Frank Zappa’s music around the world, grow his audience, and protect his legacy for the past decade.”
“Zappa was a pioneering, visionary artist who created an incredible body of work and we are incredibly proud that Gail, and now his children, have entrusted us with his important legacy. We will continue to develop innovative ways to celebrate his vast and influential catalog for both longtime fans and those just discovering his genius.
“As a prolific artist well ahead of his time, Frank Zappa was constantly creating and recording, and he left behind a treasure trove of extraordinary still-unreleased music and video in his Vault that will help us usher in the next era of Frank Zappa fans.”
Zappa died of prostate cancer in 1993 when he was 52 and was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. He was also awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.