The estate of late English singer-songwriter Nick Drake has signed a new, global publishing deal with the U.K.-based Blue Raincoat Music Publishing, a joint venture between Blue Raincoat Music and Reservoir Media.
Under the agreement announced yesterday (Jan. 18), Blue Raincoat Music Publishing will represent Drake’s entire back catalogue of songs in conjunction with Reservoir, including the three albums he released on Island Records before his untimely death in 1974 at age 26: Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1971) and Pink Moon (1972).
“There are very, very few song collections that have meant more to me over the years, and my sentiments are clearly widely shared both within and without the artistic community,” Blue Raincoat Music CEO Jeremy Lascelles said. “It is no mean feat to have written songs that are era-defining but remain utterly timeless, but that is what Nick has left behind for us all.”
Upon his death due to an overdose of a prescribed antidepressant, Drake was relatively unknown in the music world. However, his work — characterized by acoustic, guitar-based melodies and emotive lyrics — spread posthumously, thanks in part to press, multiple documentaries about his life and a pivotal 1999 Volkswagen television ad which used his song “Pink Moon.” Radiohead, R.E.M. and Beck are among many artists who have cited Drake’s work as an artistic influence.
Drake’s sister, the actress Gabrielle Drake, said in a statement that while she has often “agonized” over how to best “anticipate [Drake’s] wishes,” she had no hesitations about aligning with Blue Raincoat.
“I can analyze this instinct ’till I’m blue in the face, but in the end, it boils down to my feeling that the people at Blue Raincoat understand Nick’s particular quality and its needs,” she said. “That his work is like fine bone china – easily smashed, but given the right treatment, strong and inclusive and strengthening to the spirit. These are qualities we all need more than ever at this moment. We will face choppy waters but I am happy that Nick sails in the same boat as Blue Raincoat and Reservoir.”
Added Cally Callomon, manager of The Estate of Nick Drake: “Nick’s career has so often swum against the tide. Working with Nick’s songs has always demanded and rewarded close attention and focus, so it was a relief to find that there are still a clutch of song publishers who have the time and dedication to concentrate on the subtleties and details that these songs deserve. Blue Raincoat is one such, along with their American partners, Reservoir.”
The publishing deal also represents a “return to the fold” for Drake’s music, Callomon adds. When Reservoir partnered with Blue Raincoat Music in August 2019, it also acquired Blue Raincoat subsidiary Chrysalis Records — which once had a licensing deal with Island Records, the label Drake was signed to.