Music unit, family team for rights

Warner Music Group is going all the way with Old Blue Eyes.

The family of Frank Sinatra and WMG have established a worldwide partnership to integrate content and rights management under a single entity, Frank Sinatra Enterprises. FSE will manage all aspects of Sinatra’s contributions to music, film and stage and administer all licenses for the use of his name and likeness.

FSE will own Sinatra’s recordings from the Reprise era as well as films, television specials and unreleased footage, photos and audio recordings. FSE will also represent the artist’s rights to the Columbia and Capitol catalogs. Accord reps Warner Music’s first “360 deal” involving a legacy act.

The Sinatra family, represented by his children Nancy, Tina and Frank Jr., intends to pursue new product and venture opportunities through FSE.

Two projects are on the front burner, one of which will be announced on or near Dec. 12, which would have been Sinatra’s 92nd birthday. He died in 1998.

“We’ll still be very careful about the name and the image, but the goal is to grow the business,” said Scott Pascucci, president of WMG’s Rhino Entertainment. “Financially, the biggest area for growth is in name and likeness. We are in a position to broaden the assets.”

Sinatra spent the 1960s and ‘70s at Warner Music, having founded Reprise Records after he parted ways with Capitol Records. His recordings have been administered by the labels for which he recorded in conjunction with the Sinatra children and their archivists.

Sony Legacy issued in October a box set of his recordings from 1939-52, while Capitol released the single disc “Romance: Songs From the Heart” in January. His Reprise recording of “This Town” was the centerpiece of the soundtrack to “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

Move is the latest in a growing field of estates pacting with companies to ramp up the income produced by deceased acts. A year ago, for example, EMI Music entered into a worldwide exclusive partnership with the trust of Sinatra’s Rat Pack buddy Dean Martin, acting as the agent for licensing Martin’s name, image and likeness. This year, EMI created a Martin duets album featuring his vintage recordings and contempo stars.

Elvis Presley, whose estate is 85% owned by Robert Sillerman’s CKX Entertainment, generated $49 million last year, according to Forbes, putting him atop the list of the 14 highest-earning dead celebrities. Sinatra is not on the list.

Representatives from the Sinatra family and Warner Music Group will jointly manage FSE, with day-to-day operations handled by Rhino execs Jimmy Edwards and Gregg Goldman along with Sinatra archivist-producer Charles Pignone, who will report to co-chairs Scott Pascucci and Robert A. Finkelstein. Tina Sinatra and Edgar Bronfman Jr. will sit on the board of directors.

“Through this joint venture we’ll be able to manage, with the Sinatra family, the legacy of not only one of our greatest artists, but as founder of Reprise Records, one of the creative cornerstones of our company,” Bronfman said in a statement.

The Frank Sinatra Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, will continue under the family’s aegis.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more