Frank Zappa’s Catalog and Archives Sold to Universal Music Group

Including his master recordings, publishing catalog, film archive, and the Vault

frank zappa catalog vault archives name likeness sold universal music group

Universal Music Group announced on Thursday, June 30th that it has purchased what essentially amounts to Frank Zappa’s life work. The deal, which was reached with the Zappa Trust, includes the late rocker’s master recordings, his publishing catalog, film archive, the entirety of the contents of his storage space known as The Vault, as well as his name and likeness.

Zappa’s prolific career included more than 60 studio albums as both a solo artist and the frontman for bands The Mothers of Invention and The Mothers. Over his lifetime, the rock icon was obsessive about recording just about every single rehearsal, recording session, live performance, and more, resulting in more than 1,000 hours of audio and video recordings housed in his Vault.

“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,” Bruce Resnikoff, UMe president and CEO, said in a statement. “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,”

He continued by promising, “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.”

Over the past few years, Universal Music Group has also purchased Sting’s and Bob Dylan’s songwriting catalogs in separate deals each estimated to be worth $300 million. The terms of the Zappa acquisition are undisclosed.

The move comes on the heels of Zappa, the long-awaited, in-depth 2020 documentary directed by Alex Winter, as well as the musician’s final American concert being released as the live album Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show last summer. Additionally, Zappa’s groundbreaking 1971 documentary 200 Motels received an expansive 50th anniversary box set reissue in September.


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