Elton John and Universal Music Sign Multi-Faceted Partnership to Cover the Rest of Singer's Recording Career

Greg Gorman
Elton John

Elton John has inked a deal that will keep the legend with Universal Music Group for the rest of his career.

Through his company, Rocket Entertainment,  the 71-year old icon has struck a long-term partnership that covers recorded music, music publishing, merchandise, brand management and licensing rights. 

The pact ensures that not only is all of John’s voluminous catalog under one roof, but so are his future recordings. John has been signed to companies now under UMG’s umbrella for his five-decade recording career.

Similarly, Universal Music Publishing Group has administered John’s post-1974 copyrights since 2005, and his pre-1974  songs since before then. 

New to the arrangement is a deal with Bravado, UMG’s brand management and merchandise company, which will work with Rocket to develop  global merchandising, branding and licensing opportunities around John’s three-year Farewell Yellow Brick Road world tour, which kicked off earlier this month, and his catalog.

“In UMG we’ve got the perfect partners to support all aspects of my creative endeavors. Lucian [Grainge, UMG chairman/CEO], Jody [Gerson, UMPG chairman/CEO], David [Joseph, Universal Music UK chairman/CEO] and the UMG family share the values that we hold dear - nurturing artistry, restless creativity and innovation,” John said in a statement. “I’m proud and delighted to have them stand alongside me as I embark on the next phase of my career.”

In a statement, Grainge added, “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.”

Jody Gerson, UMPG’s Chairman & CEO, added: “Elton is a musical genius and simply one of the most talented songwriters in history. As we proudly continue our partnership together, UMPG remains deeply committed to growing the legacy of his legendary catalog and supporting future projects. As the influence of his music thrives through generations, Elton continues to be a timeless source of inspiration for songwriters and fans alike.”

David Furnish, John’s husband, became Rocket Entertainment CEO in 2015, with an eye toward growing John’s presence on streaming services and social media, as well as enhancing his touring, branding and licensing. “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.”

John is expected to release new music under the deal. He shows little signs of slowing down: His last studio album,  Wonderful Crazy Night, came out in 2016, while last year UMG put out Diamonds, a greatest hits collection spanning his entire career. Earlier this year, Revamp, a pop collection of John/Bernie Taupin covers came out, as did a companion country album of covers, Restoration.

Paramount will release Rocketman, a biopic based on John’s life, in May 2019.