Universal Music Group (UMG), the industry leader in music-based entertainment, has announced an agreement to buy Frank Zappa’s estate, which includes all of his extensive recordings, publishing catalog of well-known songs, film archive, and the entirety of The Vault, the late Zappa’s near-mythical storage facility where his life’s work was kept. The content covers the famed, genre-defying musician’s illustrious four-decade career. He is also a renowned composer, virtuoso guitarist, and well-known campaigner.
With the purchase, which also includes Frank Zappa’s name and likeness, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), UMG’s global catalog company, and Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), the company’s top music publisher, will expand on their already successful history of working with the Zappa Trust to advance Frank Zappa’s career as a trailblazer, iconoclast, brilliant musician, and fearless artist who challenged music and culture with his unconventional style.
Zappa’s entire publishing library, including “Watermelon In Easter Hay,” “Cosmik Debris,” “Peaches En Regalia,” “Uncle Remus,” “Joe’s Garage,” and countless other songs, will be acquired by UMPG under the terms of the new deal. Zappa, who was dubbed a “compositional genius” by American Songwriter, is renowned for penning songs that range from wise counsel (“Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”) to sharp cultural criticism (“Valley Girl” and “Trouble Every Day”), disco satire (“Dancin’ Fool”) to somber orchestral compositions (“The Perfect Stranger” and “Strictly Genteel”).
The Zappa Trust and UMe have been closely collaborating over the past ten years to revitalize the catalog of Frank Zappa through a steady stream of exciting archival releases, vinyl reissues of his classic albums, streaming initiatives, and by making his music more widely accessible than ever before throughout the world. Each year, UMG has seen a double-digit increase in the number of streams of Zappa’s music, and lately, a large portion of his back catalog became for the first time available for download with streaming in Hi-Res Audio.
Nearly two decades after his passing, Zappa and his music have gained renewed appeal as a result of the multifaceted efforts of UMe and the Zappa Trust as well as Alex Winter’s renowned 2020 feature documentary “Zappa,” for which UMe contributed the soundtrack.