Frankie goes to Universal.
Universal Music Group has acquired the seminal British labels Stiff Records and ZTT from SPZ Group, the company founded by the late Jill Sinclair and her husband Trevor Horn, the record producer behind so many hits, he’s earned nickname “the Man Who Invented the ‘80s.”
With immediate effect UMG reinforces its market-leader position by bringing in-house the master rights to the entire ZTT catalogue and select Stiff recordings, including Art of Noise’s “Moments In Love”; Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s debut double set Welcome To The Pleasuredome, featuring the standouts “Relax,” “Two Tribes” and the Christmas classic “The Power of Love;” the late Kirsty MacColl’s “A New England”; Shane MacGowan’s “My Way’;” 808 State’s dance classic “Pacific State” and much more.
The market-leading music company also picks up the Perfect Songs music publishing, established in 1982 by Horn and Sinclair and is home to the Seal songwriting catalog and works by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise, Olly Murs, Little Mix, Rudimental, Mark Morrison, 808 State, Lisa Stansfield, Sugababes, Groove Armada, Ian Brown and others. Songs from the Perfect catalogue have proven popular in sync campaigns for a range of brands, from Ralph Lauren to John Lewis, Virgin Atlantic, Littlewoods, Hyundai and others.
“Stiff and ZTT are truly unique and iconic labels that captured the zeitgeist of their generation and experienced great commercial success, whilst influencing contemporary music entirely on their own terms,” comments Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, in a statement announcing the acquisition. With Perfect Songs, he continues, “we are adding an award-winning publishing catalogue, rich with hits, acclaim and global success. UMG is committed to building upon the legacy of these revolutionary labels, in keeping with the spirit of their founders.”
Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Speaking on the development, Trevor Horn CBE, noted, “Jill started Perfect Songs and ZTT in the 80’s and I’m extremely proud of what she achieved. Lucian Grange and Jill were really good friends so I’m pleased that these catalogues are going to Universal.”
Horn, who enjoyed his first hit with the Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star” in 1979, added, “I’d like to thank all the writers and the artists on ZTT, Perfect and Stiff. It was a great experience and I enjoyed working with each one of you (most of the time). And I’d like to thank Paul Morley for all the wonderful times at ZTT, Steve Lipson and Anne Dudley, Liam Teeling and Chris O’Donnell (STIFF & Perfect) for their help along the way and Seal.”
ZTT (or Zang Tumb Tuum in longhand) was founded in 1983 by Horn, Sinclair and the music journalist Paul Morley and its story is one of pop’s great fairytales, in the words of Pitchfork, delivering 50 albums, 100 singles and some of the decade’s biggest hits.
Stiff Records was launched in July 1976 by Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson and brought such artists as Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Madness, Ian Dury and the Damned to prominence. Few would argue Stiff’s status as the blueprint for many indie labels to come.
Sinclair died in 2014 at the age of 61, eight years after suffering brain damage in a freak accident involving an air rifle.