Friday, September 19, 2014

The Grateful Dead Ink Publishing Deal With Universal

How does a band mark a 50th anniversary as an event rather than a footnote? Universal Music Publishing Group thinks it has a plan to breathe new life into The Grateful Dead

Formed in 1965, the iconic psychedelic act toured up until a month before founder Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, and had historic success in the live arena -- it was a top 10 draw throughout the 1990s, and ranked No. 1 twice. The group also scored a hit single -- “Touch of Grey” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987 -- and cultivated a legendarily devoted fan base.

Still, says UMPG North America president Evan Lamberg, “Young people may know the name Grateful Dead, but not be as familiar with their music. If you’re not putting yourself into relevant areas where your music can be discovered, your music could be lost to the younger [generation].”

It’s an opportunity he hopes to explore at UMPG, which will handle global administration for The Dead’s song catalog in a deal signed with the band’s publishing company, Ice Nine. (Six band members and the heirs of three deceased members claim rights to the catalog, and Warner Music’s Rhino Entertainment handles the band’s recorded masters.)

But before you start humming “Truckin’ ” along with the next GMC ad your DVR is hopping over, Lamberg notes that the partnership includes film and TV synchs but limits placement in commercials to songs not written by the band’s primary collaborator, Robert Hunter, who has veto power.

“We will bring them everything for them to review,” says Lamberg, “and we will learn more about what they want.”

His hope: “That this deal might get some conversations started out there among other iconic artists who haven’t done global deals.”

In fact, UMPG also has picked up the Neil Diamond catalog as part of the iconic singer-songwriter’s move to Universal Music Group from Sony Music Entertainment. But UMPG declined to comment on the Diamond signing.