Andrea Bocelli signs with Universal Music to cash in amid streaming era

By Mark Sweney
Andrea Bocelli performs at the Roman Theatre of Merida, Spain.
Andrea Bocelli performs at the Roman Theatre of Merida, Spain. Photograph: Francis Gonzalez/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

The classical music superstar Andrea Bocelli has struck a global deal with Universal Music to cash-in on three decades of hit music, new albums and opportunities including live streamed concerts.

The Italian tenor, who has sold more than 90m albums and generated more than 5bn streams, is the latest global star to sign a major deal to maximise the commercial potential of their music in the streaming era.

Bocelli has officially signed with Universal Music, the world’s biggest music company and home to acts including Taylor Swift and the Beatles, which for the last 25 years has only been the distributor of his music.

“Fully joining the artist stable of the largest record company in the world is the culmination of a dream,” said Bocelli, who sung at the opening ceremony of Euro 2020 held earlier this year. “I celebrate this new adventure, full of ideas, new projects and of course music.”

The long-term deal will include releasing new albums, developing a range of audio-visual projects for TV and livestreaming, music merchandising and exploiting Bocelli’s brand through commercial partnerships, as well as licensing his music for use in TV shows, films, video games and advertisements.

“We look forward to putting the global organisation to work on Andrea’s behalf, ensuring that his new-music and brilliant catalogue are enjoyed by his millions of fans and discovered by millions more,” said Lucian Grainge, chairman of Universal Music, which floated on the Amsterdam stock exchange last month at a €45bn market value.

Early in the pandemic with much of the world under lockdown, and in-person live music events cancelled, Bocelli held a YouTube concert called Music for Hope. The live stream from the Duomo Cathedral in Milan became the largest classical live stream in YouTube history, notching up more than 42m streams to date.

Last week, Tina Turner sold the rights to her music catalogue spanning six decades, as well as the management of her name, image and likeness, to music publishing company BMG.

In August, Warner Music, the world’s third biggest music company, struck a “career-spanning global partnership” with Madonna. In December, Bob Dylan sold the royalty rights to his entire catalogue of 600 songs to Universal Music for a reported $300m.

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