Are Tidal and Universal About to Battle Over the Rights to Prince’s Music?

 

Prince was the rare artist who owned both the publishing and recorded rights to all of his own music. When he died unexpectedly earlier this year without a will, it sent the music industry scrambling after those rights, which could potentially be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

A big piece of the situation appeared to be settled earlier this week when Universal inked a blockbuster deal with Prince’s estate to control the artist’s publishing catalog, giving the company control over which streaming services Prince’s songs could appear on. Prince famously withheld his music from streaming services like Spotify, but granted exclusive streaming rights to Tidal in 2015.

The Universal deal was heralded as a way to get Prince’s music in more places for more fans to enjoy, but a report from the New York Post says that Tidal isn’t going to let its Prince exclusivity slip away without a fight, and that the company made legal moves in advance of the Universal deal to protect itself. From Page Six:

“…before the Universal deal was reached on Wednesday, Tidal … was already lobbying a Minnesota court as a creditor in the Prince estate case, claiming that Prince granted Tidal exclusive rights to his vast catalog of master recordings.

Sources tell us that on Oct. 21, Tidal told probate court Judge Kevin Eide, via a legal letter, that it will seek injunctive relief if any deals by Prince’s estate violate its agreement with him, which Tidal asserts included a “Hit n Run” remix album, another new album and rights to his catalog.

There’s apparently some disagreement over how long Prince’s deal with Tidal was actually meant to last. Tidal released Prince’s final two albums, HITNRUN (Phase One) and HITNRUN (Phase Two) back in 2015, and the Post‘s report says Tidal believes it has the rights to a HITNRUN remix album and another new Prince album.

In 2015, after making the Tidal deal, Prince praised Jay-Z for spending $100 million to start Tidal, saying, “We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”

Earlier this month, it was rumored that Jay-Z was offering Prince’s estate up to $40 million for the singer’s vault of unreleased music.


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