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Universal Music Group Sets Global Frank Sinatra Licensing Pact

Deal combines Capitol and Reprise catalogs in preparation for 2015 centennial marketing push

On the eve of the 2015 centennial of Frank Sinatra’s birth, Universal Music Group has sealed a pact to rep global audio catalog rights to Ol’ Blue Eyes’ Reprise catalog, unifying most of the legendary singer’s classic recordings under one label roof.

Deal with the licensing unit Frank Sinatra Enterprises expands an existing relationship with UMG, which has held international rights to the Reprise catalog since 2009. Universal will now assume U.S. releasing of the Reprise material, previously issued through Warner Music Group’s catalog division Rhino Entertainment. No dollar figure for the new pact was revealed.

The Reprise material – which Sinatra cut for the imprint he founded in 1961 – includes such major pop hits as “Strangers in the Night,” “That’s Life,” “Theme From New York, New York,” “It Was a Very Good Year” and “My Way.” (Reprise was sold to Warner Bros. Records in 1963; the vocalist continued to record for Reprise into the early ‘80s.)

UMG already issued the music from Sinatra’s celebrated years with Capitol Records in the ‘50s, when he recorded such concept sets as “Only the Lonely,” “In the Wee Small Hours,” “Come Fly With Me” and “Swing Easy!” After nearly a decade of studio inactivity, he returned to Capitol in 1993-94 for two bestselling, all-star “Duets” sets.

UMG chairman-CEO Lucian Grainge said in a statement, “Frank Sinatra’s music is iconic and enduring, and we are honored to be selected to build on our success working with FSE and the Sinatra family with exciting and innovative products marking the centennial celebration under a new ‘Signature Sinatra’ imprint worthy of his rich legacy.”

Under the freshly minted shingle, fresh Sinatra catalog titles will be compiled and marketed through UMG’s catalog division, Universal Music Enterprises.

The UMG campaign will kick off on Nov. 19, when the “Duets” albums will be re-released in a deluxe package that will include previously unreleased collaborations with Tom Scott and Tanya Tucker, some rare bonus tracks featuring Luciano Pavarotti, Willie Nelson and George Strait and new liner notes. Early 2014 will see the release of a new Valentine’s Day-themed compilation of love songs drawn from the Capitol and Reprise recordings.

While most pre-rock catalogs have failed to maintain their market clout over the course of time, Sinatra – who died at 82 in 1998 — has proven evergreen, thanks to his iconic status among American entertainers. “Nothing But the Best,” a 2008 Rhino compilation of his Reprise hits, has sold in excess of 1 million copies, and makes periodic reappearances on the U.S. album chart.

Sinatra’s pre-1953 solo recordings for Columbia Records were most recently reissued under the Sony Legacy umbrella. Frank Sinatra Enterprises, a joint venture between the Sinatra family and WMG, owns and manages the musician’s name and likeness rights.

READ: Music’s Lucrative Legacies

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