I read in this morning's UK papers that EMI, due to their huge debts, are considering selling off parts of their back catalogue rights for theirr bigger selling artists. Universal are named as an interested party, and The Beatles were named as one of many acts that could be included in the deal. The article stated that it would be a five year deal only to raise short term cash, but retain the rights after 5 years.
I'm not sure if this type of deal would include Queen, as I'm not sure whether EMI actually own their catalogue, or it is owned by QPL and mearly 'leased out' to EMI in exclusive deals arranged between them. If Queen were to be included however, and the deal is a short term 5 year one, my thought was initially that it would increase the chances of any archive set, but having thought about it I think we could actually expect more greatest hits compilations instead released by whoever gets the rights, in order for them to make a return on their investment. Boo!!
On a related point, if a band (in this case Queen) are tied to record deal whereby the record label pays for studio time, the label will usually own any songs, snippets, demos, ideas etc..recorded in time paid for by them. Similarly, they will retain ownership of copyright etc... over anything released on their label as a general release. If a band however records in their OWN studio (ie Roger's or Brian's) in THEIR OWN TIME (ie not time scheduled and set aside by the record label), does this material not become the property of the record company until is is actually released on their label? Similarly, if material is recorded but never released, who owns the copyright of the material whilst it is still on the tape, but not is a publically released format? I'm sure that most labels will have tight clauses to state that ANYTHING recorded whilst under an agreement with them is owned by them, regardless of where and when it was recorded, or whether it has yet been released.
I suppose the main questions I'm trying to ask are that in the case of Queen, most of the demo and unheard tracks that we want to see on an archive set will probably have been recorded in home studios, in the band member's own time, and therefore surely copyright belongs to them as the creator, and not to the record company? I suppose that Queen may have a looser type of deal that any material they record is still owned by them, but they cannot release it without offering EMI the first refusal? Once this contract has expired (I remember reading somewhere that this is shortly?), Queen will be free to either release such recordings themselves, or sell them to another label without any commitment to EMI?
Most other bands lose their back catalogue to their old labels, as the label still owns it even though the artist may not have been signed to them for years - I don't think this is the case with Queen though?