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Warner Music Acquires Decades of Yes’ Recording Catalog

WMG has acquired the recorded music rights and income streams to a raft of classic albums by the prog-rock pioneers.

Warner Music Group’s global catalog division has struck a deal to represent Yes’ complete Atlantic Records works, an era that spans 12 studio albums and includes the prog-rock legends’ Grammy Award-winning ‘80s classic 90125.

WMG announced today (Jan. 23) that it has acquired the recorded music rights and income streams to a raft of albums, from 1969’s Yes through the band’s final studio album of its Atlantic/Atco period, 1987’s Big Generator, along with various live recordings and compilations. (See a full list below)


Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but Billboard estimates that the Yes catalog generated about $3.2 million in annual revenue over the last three years — from 2020 through 2022 — and further estimates Yes’ royalties at almost $1 million. The band also appears to own master recordings beginning in 1991, but those albums had meager consumption units last year, collectively accumulating less than 2,000 units in the U.S. Consequently, Billboard estimates WMG’s acquisition of Yes master rights and royalty income streams at about $20 million to $25 million.

Warner Music Group declined to comment.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers “came together and worked enthusiastically with Warner Music Group to secure this historic deal,” reads a statement from the band, “ensuring that these iconic recordings will continue to be curated in the optimum manner to delight their fans across more than five decades, while also finding and developing new audiences for this timeless music.”

Covered by the acquisition is 90125, the multiplatinum album from 1983 that yielded “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” the biggest hit from Yes’ 50-year-plus career. The single peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at No. 28 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart; a 2005 remix, credited to Max Graham vs Yes, went to No. 9 in the U.K., one of the group’s two top 10 hits in their homeland.

Also, an instrumental track from the 90125 album, “Cinema,” went on to win the Grammy Award for best rock instrumental performance.

While Yes did not have any No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, the band did land seven in the all-genre chart’s top 10: 1971’s Fragile (No. 4), 1972’s Close to the Edge (No. 3), 1973’s Tales From the Topographic Ocean (No. 6), 1974’s Relayer (No. 5), 1977’s Going for the One (No. 8), 1978’s Tormato (No. 10) and 90125 (No. 5) — all of which are covered by the new deal.

Global album sales total 30 million units worldwide, according to WMG.

“My introduction to Yes came while working at a record store in Ohio in 1983,” comments Kevin Gore, Warner Music’s president of global catalog. “I loved the 90125 album and went to see the band live, where I was introduced to their catalog of incredible songs.  I’ve been a fan ever since and we’re absolutely thrilled and deeply honored that the strong relationship between Yes and Warner Music will continue forever.”

The Yes lineup evolved much like the group’s music. The 90125 incarnation featured Trevor Rabin on guitar, alongside singer Jon Anderson, late bassist Chris Squire, late drummer Alan White, and original keyboardist Tony Kaye. In 2021, private equity firm Round Hill Music Royalty Fund acquired the music publishing catalogue from Rabin.

Yes entered the Rock Hall in April 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, on a night when folk icon and social justice activist Joan Baez, string-augmented rock hitmakers Electric Light Orchestra, arena rock titans Journey, grunge pioneers Pearl Jam and West Coast rap god Tupac were all elevated.

Rush bassist and fellow Hall of Famer Geddy Lee inducted the band and joined them onstage for a “crushingly loud” run-through of “Roundabout,” Billboard reported at the time.

Speaking backstage about it, Lee said, “I just wanted to make sure I didn’t f— it up. They are without question my favorite band.”

Yes studio albums, live recordings, and compilations included in the deal:

Yes (1969)
Time and a Word (1970)
The Yes Album (1971)
Fragile (1971)
Close to the Edge (1972)
Yessongs (1973)
Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973)
Relayer (1974)
Yesterdays (1975)
Going for the One (1977)
Tormato (1978)
Drama (1980)
Yesshows (1980)
Classic Yes (1981)
90125 (1983)
9012Live: The Solos (1985)
Big Generator (1987)
Yesyears (1991)
Yesstory (1992)
Highlights: The Very Best of Yes (1993)
In A Word: Yes (1969-) (2002)
Yes Remixes (2003)
The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection (2003)
The Word Is Live (2005)
High Vibration (2013)
Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two (2015)
The Steven Wilson Remixes (2018)
Topographic Drama: Live Across America (2017)
Yes 50 Live (2019)

UPDATE: This article was updated Jan. 23 at 4:11 p.m. EST to include an estimate of how much Warner Music Group paid for the Yes catalog, based on estimates of the catalog’s annual revenue.