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Two years ago icon and recording artist Prince struck an exclusive deal with the streaming platform Tidal allowing the platform to be the only site for streaming the late singer’s music. The length and extent of this deal has recently come under both scrutiny and legal action as his estate has filed a lawsuit against Tidal and appear to be closing in on some deals with various platforms that would make some of his most popular songs like “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” to become available publicly. Following his tragic death, last April Prince has become one of the most searched artists for streaming as fans have sought to celebrate his life and music while mourning his death.
The Prince Rogers Nelson Estate’s has received a court-appointed special administrator (Bremer Trust) who in turn hired entertainment experts Charles Koppelman and L. Londell McMillan to secure business agreements on the estate’s behalf. The Estate has been locked in a legal battle with Tidal after they filed a lawsuit against Roc Nation and Aspire (Tidal’s parent company) following the streaming service putting 15 of Prince’s albums on their site for streaming last year. Trust alleges that the streaming deal signed with Tidal was only effective for 90 days and was restricted to Prince’s album Hit N Run. Trust says that by putting all 15 albums online they violated the agreed upon terms and have committed copyright infringement.
In response to the copyright infringement claims Aspiro, in both probate court and Minnesota federal court, are stating they received more rights than Trust is claiming. Aspiro also believes that claims may be barred because Trust “lacks the requisite authority to authorize the instant lawsuit” and because “Plaintiffs are not the real parties in interest with respect to the claims asserted.” Aspiro has filed an answer to the lawsuit along with Roc Nation in a separate filing that asserts NPG Records lacks valid copyright registrations and has committed copyright misuse.
The Prince Rogers Nelson Estate is hoping to have all legal actions to be resolved and have Prince’s music available on both Spotify and Apple music before the Grammy awards ceremony next month.
In addition to the legal action being taken against Tidal it has also been announced by Universal Music that their merchandise and brand management company Bravado has signed a merchandising agreement with Prince’s estate as the exclusive worldwide branding and licensing partner for the estate.
“Prince’s legendary performances, his unmistakable style and music, his incomparable artistry — all continue to make a lasting impression on art, music, culture, design and fashion and will continue for generations to come. I’m thrilled the estate has chosen Bravado to represent Prince,” said Mat Vlasic, CEO of Bravado.
This deal has been confirmed by estate representatives Koppelman and McMillan who released in a statement the following quote:
“We are very happy Bravado will be the worldwide exclusive merchandise company for Prince, whose fans around the world will soon have new exciting opportunities to connect with their favorite artist. We have full confidence that Mat and his team at Bravado will help support Prince’s legacy and artistic expression for generations of fans to come.”
The New York Post has announced that they received information via an inside source that the deal with various streaming sites to allow Princes music be released from the current Tidal-only contract will take place on February 12th and coincide with the Grammy Awards.
“The switch gets turned on for everybody during the Grammys,” their insider is confirming. However the new streaming deal will only cover Prince’s Warner Brothers’ releases. Amy music (released or otherwise) that lies outside of his contract with Warner Brothers still being negotiated.
— Roy Shepherd (@OOH_Roy) January 30, 2017
It’s notable that formal announcement has yet to be made from any of the streaming sites themselves. What has been noticed is cryptic, purple subway and billboard ads placed by Spotify in cities like New York and London which could be a subtle hint that a “Purple Rain” is in store for Prince fans on the platform.