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Wannabe Everywhere: Spice Girls Partner With Universal’s Bravado for Merch and Licensing

LONDON – Twenty-five years after they burst onto the pop scene, the Spice Girls are once again looking to take their girl-power message worldwide — this time via an expansive global rights deal with Bravado, Universal Music Group’s in-house merchandise arm.

The multi-year partnership will see Bravado represent the iconic, trail-blazing girl group across merchandising, direct-to-consumer products and campaigns, touring, brand and retail licensing, and distribution.

UMG did not disclose financial terms for the deal. It marks the first time in two decades that the Spice Girls’ licensing rights across all channels have been assigned to a single partner.

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Bravado owner Universal Music Group holds the global rights to the Spice Girls’ recorded music catalog, which spans three studio albums — 1996’s Spice, 1997’s Spiceworld and 2000’s Forever – and 11 singles, although it doesn’t control their publishing rights. (Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard, who co-wrote many of the band’s biggest hits, including breakthrough hit “Wannabe,” are published by Universal Music Publishing Group, however).

Later this month, Universal will release an expanded 25th anniversary edition of the Spice Girls’ debut album, Spice25, featuring previously unreleased songs, demos and mixes.

Spice Girls have sold 12.2 million albums in the U.S., according to MRC Data. Their catalog of songs has generated 842 million on-demand streams in the U.S., with over two million on-demand audio streams a week in the U.S.

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Virgin Records released the Spice Girls’ debut album, Spice, in the United Kingdom on Nov. 4, 1996. It spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart and topped the Billboard 200 the following May. To date, the album has sold more than 31 million copies worldwide, according to Universal, making it the best-selling album of all time by a female group. The album’s U.S. sales stand at 7.5 million, according to MRC Data.

“Wannabe,” the group’s lone No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, spent four weeks atop the chart in 1997. (It’s one of seven top 20-charting hits for the act.)

Due out on Oct. 29, Spice25 will be sold as a two-CD set inside a hardback book, as well as color-coded cassette and vinyl versions (pink for Baby Spice, Red for Posh Spice, etc.) and an exclusive remastered Apple music edition of the original record in Dolby Atmos. A range of “Spice Girls 25” merchandise, including T-shirts, hoodies and mugs is currently on sale at the band’s official web store.

Plenty more anniversary items will, no doubt, follow. Spice Girls dolls, body spray, clothing and stationery were some of the hundreds of merch products that flooded the market during the British quintet’s late-90s peak.

A statement from Universal says the group’s five founding members — Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown and Victoria Beckham — will work “hand-in-hand” with Bravado to deliver a new range of exciting product lines to retail partners around the world.

“We are so excited to be working with Bravado again, especially in this our 25th anniversary year and are looking forward to collaborating with the team,” the group says in a statement.

Richelle Parham, UMG’s president of global e-commerce and business development, said the tie-up with Bravado will bring the Spice Girls’ “iconic brand, style and empowering message to fans and stores internationally,” expanding the band’s “legacy and cultural impact for years to come.”

The breadth of rights granted to UMG “gives us the vehicle to truly celebrate their legendary status,” says Rachel Redfearn, vp A&R and brand management at Bravado.

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Despite the last Spice Girls studio album coming out in 2000 (the act released a greatest hits compilation in 2007), the British group has remained a hugely popular live act. They reunited after a prolonged hiatus for a 47-date world tour in 2007-08, and performed at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in London.

In 2019, they toured again. This time as a four-piece — minus Victoria Beckham, who declined to participate due to her fashion business — the group performed at 13 concerts in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales during The Spice World 2019 Tour. The trek grossed $78.2 million and sold 697,357 tickets, according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore.

Although no future touring plans have been announced, Brown recently revealed that last year the band began talks about performing again, before the COVID-19 pandemic brought discussions to a halt.

“I’m always pushing to have a Spice Girls reunion,” Brown said on U.K. TV show Steph’s Packed Lunch in September. “If it’s got anything to do with me, which it will have, because I’m the driving force, I’ll make sure it happens… in 2023.”