Bee Gees’ back catalogue signed with Capitol/Universal

Bee Gees’ homecoming to Capitol/Universal


Bee Gees’ back catalogue is going to Capitol under a new global deal.

With the deal with Warner Music expiring in December 2016, there have been various speculations as to where the massive back catalogue would be heading.  According to Billboard (online edition dated November 29, 2016) and Music Business Worldwide(online edition dated November 29, 2016), a global deal has been signed and the legendary catalogue is now in the hands of Universal’s Capitol Records.

*The band has inked a long-term worldwide agreement with UMG’s Steve Barnett-led label – leaving behind a relationship with Warner Music Group.

*The news represents a homecoming of sorts: the Bee Gees’ first major label debut in 1967 was through Polydor (now part of UMG).

*In addition to 22 studio albums and several soundtracks, including the 40m-selling Saturday Night Fever, the agreement includes the rights to numerous compilation albums, unreleased recordings and long-form audiovisual projects.

*Capitol – in conjunction with Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), Barry Gibb and the estates of co-founding members Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb – plans to spearhead an ‘array of comprehensive and forward-thinking sales and marketing campaigns designed to reinvigorate The Bee Gees’ illustrious catalogue’.

*“The Bee Gees catalogue is one of the most esteemed and important bodies of work in the history of recorded music, and we are brimming with ideas that will remind fans of its brilliance and further the band’s legacy by introducing their music to new audiences. (Steve Barnett, Capitol Music Group CEO and Chairman)
*Barry Gibb: “The whole family is overwhelmed by this new agreement. To be surrounded by the greatest record people and artists of all time is a very humbling experience. Wish my brothers were here to share it.

*Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO Sir Lucian Grainge commented, “There are few artists in history who have created a body of work so successful, diverse and timeless as Barry, Robin and Maurice. 

“We’re delighted to welcome the incomparable music of the Bee Gees to the Universal Music Group family and we look forward to building upon their incredible legacy.”(Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO Sir Lucian Grainge)

* “The music of the Bee Gees appeals to music lovers in every corner of the globe, and it is an honor to work with this incredible catalog of recorded music.
“We look forward to showcasing their exceptional body of work and introducing them to a new legion of fans while staying true to their longtime, loyal audience. (Universal Music Enterprises President & CEO Bruce Resnikoff)

With their international debut in 1967, the release of "Saturday Night Fever" in 1977, and the big "come back" with ‘You Win Again’ in 1987, there is a whispered belief among Bee Gees fans that the seventh year of each decade represents an important milestone in their career.  With Barry’s forthcoming "In The Now" tour starting in April and this new global deal, the year 2017 seems to live up to this theory, too!

To date, there were more than a few signs that made us hopeful.  Perhaps this was what Barry had in mind when he sang, "Not even one brave soul/is gonna walk that mile from the curse to the legacy/But I must try" in ‘Diamonds,’ arguably one of the most powerful and moving tracks from his "In the Now" album.   The phrase seems to suggest that there is going to be some big move to revingorate their incredible legacy. 

Also, this could be the "good place" Barry meant when he said in The Sun interview (online edition dated September 30, 2016): “I just want the Bee Gees’ music to end up in a good place where they are looked after and presented in a big and bright way.”  Judging from the comments by Universal/Capitol people quoted above, it looks like they are determined to look after and present in a big and bright way the valuable legacy of the Bee Gees!

Also, there is another element that makes us hopeful.  The Bee Gees could be fighting a ticking clock.  According to the article on Rolling Stone about the massive 36-album Bob Dylan live box set (online edition dated October 17, 2016), the reason behind its hasty release is a European copyright law which "stipulates that all recordings enter the public domain if they remain unreleased for more than 50 years"!   The article states that "that same law compelled Dylan’s team to release the complete Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde takes last year."

If the same law applies also to the Bee Gees, with 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of their historical return to England and rise to international stardom, fans have reasons to be hopeful for a lot more outtakes and rare gems that were left out of even the precious Rhino "Studio Albums 1967-68" box set!

Universal Music Japan let us know that they have no detailed information about upcoming releases at this point.  We’ll keep you updated as we look forward to working with the Universal team on anything and everything for and about the Bee Gees.  So please watch this space.

{BGD – November 2016}

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