The blockbuster alliance gives the global music behemoth access to group members’ personal archives, including never-before-heard music, video footage, journals and memorabilia.
Aerosmith is back in the saddle… with a massive new deal that will launch the rock icons into a new era of their nearly five-decade career.
On Monday (Aug. 23) Universal Music announced it had signed a new global alliance with legendary group that will span recorded music, merchandise and assorted audio-video projects. Under the deal, UMG will become the home of Aerosmith’s entire recorded music catalog ahead of their 50th anniversary next year. The company will also house Aerosmith’s future music projects and work with the band to develop, produce and distribute new film, TV and other audio-visual content projects celebrating their history and cultural impact, details of which will be announced soon.
The agreement also gives UMG access to the band’s “Vindaloo Vaults” and the personal archives of band members Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford, who will help curate their collections. Material from these archives will be utilized in future releases to provide fans access to never-before-seen-and-heard music, photos, video footage, artwork, journals, set lists and memorabilia.
Aerosmith released some of their most successful albums through UMG’s Geffen Records in the ’80s and ’90s, including 1987’s Permanent Vacation (five-times platinum), 1989’s Pump and 1993’s Get a Grip (both seven-times platinum). However, the majority of their albums were released by Sony’s Columbia Records, including such multi-platinum sellers as their 1973 self-titled debut, 1974’s Get Your Wings, 1975’s Toys in the Attic, 1976’s Rocks, 1977’s Draw the Line and 1997’s Nine Lives. Under this new deal, that lucrative catalog is now wholly controlled by UMG.
Notably, Aerosmith’s first album with UMG — 1985’s Done With Mirrors — already qualifies under a clause in the Copyright Act of 1976 that allows bands to reclaim the rights to their post-1978 recorded works after 35 years, while the remainder of their Geffen albums are all slated to hit the 35-year mark over the next decade. Now, those releases will stay under UMG’s control for the foreseeable future.
Aerosmith’s UMG connection goes beyond recorded music. The band also works with Epic Rights — the merch and branding company purchased by the UMG-owned Bravado in Jan. 2019 – and has released recent concert films through UMG’s Eagle Rock Entertainment, including 2013’s Rock for the Rising Sun and Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014. They are also part of UMG’s partnership with YouTube, under which classic music videos – including the group’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and “Dream On” — are remastered to current audio and video standards.
Formed in Boston in 1970, Aerosmith has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide. The band is tied for the most RIAA album certifications by an American group, with 25 gold, 18 platinum, 12 multi-platinum and one diamond.
Aerosmith has placed 20 top 40-charting albums on the Billboard 200 chart, including nine top 10s (two of which were No. 1). The band’s most recent studio album was 2012’s Music From Another Dimension!, which debuted and peaked at No. 5 on the Nov. 24, 2012-dated chart. It was the act’s first effort of new material since the mostly-covers album Honkin’ On Bobo in 2004 (No. 5 on the Billboard 200).
On the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, Aerosmith has notched 21 top 40 hits, including eight top 10s (and one No. 1, “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing”). Notably, they’ve placed a top 10 hit on the Hot 100 four decades in a row (1970s-2000s). On the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart, which began in 1981, the group has placed 44 hits — the sixth-most of any act.
The band’s catalog of hit singles includes such perennial favorites as “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk This Way,” “Angel,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Cryin,’” “Crazy” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
In 2020, the band’s catalog of songs garnered 528 million on-demand streams in the U.S. Globally, the act’s songs net 2 billion on-demand streams in 2020.
Since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991, the band has sold 33.6 million albums in the U.S. — the seventh-most albums sold by any group in the U.S. in the past 30 years in America. (Among groups, The Beatles leads in U.S. album sales since 1991, with 71.6 million.)
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
“Aerosmith’s global success places them in rarefied air among the all-time greatest rock icons,” said Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO of UMG, in a statement. “On the band’s 50th anniversary, Aerosmith continues to influence the course of music not only through their iconic catalog but also through film, television and video games and their inimitable style. On a personal note, I couldn’t be prouder that they have chosen UMG as their global partner. We look forward to building upon their incredible legacy and ensuring their music continues to inspire fans around the world.”
“It’s been a long road but I’m extremely happy and proud to say on behalf of Aerosmith we have been able to bring our 50 years of music under one roof by partnering with UMG,” said Aerosmith co-founder and lead guitarist Joe Perry. “This will allow us to bring our music to our fans in ways we never were able to before. It’s something we’ve dreamed about happening for a long time. It’s a win for Aerosmith, UMG and ultimately our fans. Needless to say we are very excited. It’s an incredible way to celebrate 50 years and the many more years to come.”
Aerosmith manager Larry Rudolph added, “I couldn’t be happier for the band members and their families. Not only are we bringing together the band’s entire catalog in one place, but we’re entrusting these recordings to the very capable hands of Sir Lucian, Bruce Resnikoff and the incredible UMG system worldwide. I would like to thank Sir Lucian for tirelessly working together to craft perhaps the most unique and mutually beneficial catalog arrangement in history and providing a huge commitment to Aerosmith. The members of Aerosmith and I thank him and we all look forward to many years of successfully continuing to share the catalog of the greatest American rock band in history with the world.”
Article written by: Chris Eggertsen
Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images