Rocket Entertainment and Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, announced a significant new agreement to provide Elton John, one of music’s most iconic artists and the most successful male solo artist in US Billboard chart history, the industry’s best resources and expertise across recorded music, music publishing and licensing rights. This partnership not only means that UMG represents the entirety of Elton John’s legendary creative output throughout his extraordinary five-decade career, but also will see UMG’s labels globally release all of Elton John’s new music for the rest of his career going forward.
The multi-faceted agreement marks the beginning of a new era of expanded collaboration between Elton John and UMG and significantly expands their global business partnership. The long-term commitment also includes the publishing rights to his iconic song writing catalogue to be administrated by Universal Music Publishing Group long into the future. Bravado, UMG’s brand-management and merchandise company, will work closely with Rocket to expand and develop global merchandising, branding and retail licensing opportunities around Elton’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road world tour and catalogue.
In making the announcement Elton John said: “In UMG we’ve got the perfect partners to support all aspects of my creative endeavours. Lucian, Jody, David and the UMG family share the values that we hold dear – nurturing artistry, restless creativity and innovation. I’m proud and delighted to have them stand alongside me as I embark on the next phase of my career”
Working with David Furnish, CEO of Rocket Entertainment, UMG will leverage its unique combination of global reach, creative and commercial expertise, and renowned marketing and promotional support to ensure Elton John’s current releases, alongside his rich songwriting and recorded music catalogues, are continually introduced to new generations of fans, and that his music’s cultural impact expands through innovative campaigns in countries around the world.
David Furnish, CEO of Rocket Entertainment, said: “During the time I’ve been CEO of Rocket our relationship with Universal has gone from strength to strength. Sir Lucian Grainge, Jody Gerson, David Joseph and their teams’ vision to bring Elton into the digital / streaming age and make his catalogue relevant to a younger generation is in perfect tandem with everything we strive to do day in, day out at Rocket. Elton’s hunger and desire to push himself creatively and collaborate with the best, most exciting creatives in the world is as great as ever, and Universal fully share our vision to keep Elton at the forefront of popular culture.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group said: “Elton John is a creative cornerstone of UMG, which has been his home since his earliest days at MCA Records. In parallel with Elton’s stratospheric rise as an artist, UMG has evolved from a ‘label’ and ‘publisher’ into a broad-based global media and entertainment company that is positioned to work at a far higher level and with greater impact with an artist of Elton’s caliber. As he embarks on his monumental Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, we are excited for our entire global organization to stand alongside him, working hand in hand with David and his team at Rocket to ensure that his music continues to inspire and entertain audiences around the world for generations to come.”
Since becoming CEO of Rocket Entertainment in 2015, Furnish has fostered an ever-closer working partnership with UMG. Together, they have focused on growing Elton John’s presence on streaming services and social media platforms to support a broader strategy in touring, branding and licensing. A strategically planned series of initiatives across the fields of recorded and live music, fashion, film and video have ensured that not only does Elton’s oeuvre continue to find new fans, but his continuous creative output has remained exciting and relevant across the generations.
In November 2017 saw the release of Diamonds, a career-spanning Greatest Hits set. Timed to coincide with Elton’s 70th birthday, as well as the anniversary of his 50th year working with his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, a sustained period of celebratory activity surrounded the release, including an ITV1 90-minute prime-time special and a Radio 2 special in the U.K., where the album was certified twice Gold and reached the Top 5 of the U.K. Album Charts upon release.
This year has seen the live side of Elton John’s business pushed to ever greater heights. The announcement of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was a VR extravaganza that transported attending media- and fans around the world watching on YouTube – through the defining moments of Elton’s illustrious performance career. The tour, which kicked off earlier this month in Allentown, Pennsylvania marks the Elton John’s goodbye to the road, drawing the curtain on a career that has broken records and redefined the parameters of live music. The U.S. dates became the fast selling American Express presale of all time, selling 450,000 tickets on first day, and 76 of the dates sold out instantly. The tour will take in over 300 shows over three years, and it’s projected to see Elton perform in front of 6 million to 7 million people.
Elton continues to impact the world of fashion and will work with Bravado to create an inspired line of merchandise for his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. Bravado will oversee worldwide tour and retail merchandise, brand partnerships, licensing and direct-to-consumer sales along with activations planned in cities throughout the tour. Elton’s iconic presence in fashion and design was felt last year as Gucci unveiled their Spring Summer 2018 collection. Designed by Alessandro Michele and inspired by Elton’s inimitable style, the collection referenced original items taken from his archives. Gucci has also designed Elton’s wardrobe for the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, threading the various style elements that make up the superstar’s DNA.