Fifty three years after he left Capitol EMI to start Reprise Records, Frank Sinatra is coming home. Capitol EMI is now part of powerhouse Universal Music Group. And UMG has offered Frank’s heirs– Frank Sinatra Enterprises– a bundle to leave Reprise and all that history. This will unite Sinatra’s two main catalogs under one roof. UMG will start a Sinatra Signature series.
Warner Music Group, which owns Reprise, is a big loser in this deal. They’ve always relied on the Sinatra catalog. But Warner Music was hobbled under Edgar Bronfman and Lyor Cohen. With very few resources left, they simply couldn’t expect the Sinatra family to stick around. Now Frank joins the Beatles, Katy Perry, and the massive UMG enterprise.
Sinatra — who is not the father of Ronan Farrow– started Reprise in 1960 to give himself and other artists more freedom of expression. In the 1970s Neil Young became a force at Reprise and the label had lots of hits including T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong.” During the 90s Reprise foundered, and under the Bronfman-Cohen regime it died.
Does Sinatra still sell? The answer is that Sinatra, like the Beatles, is forever. A new issuing of box sets and other material will refresh sales quickly. There’s supposedly a remastered Sinatra Duets album coming soon.