*Prince’s estate has chosen Universal Music Group to handle exclusive licensing rights to much of the late artist’s catalog of released and unreleased works, reports Billboard.
The multi-year agreement covers material from the latter part of Prince’s career, after he left Warner Bros. Records in 1996.
Under the deal, the estate is licensing the 25 albums Prince released under the NPG Records label, including “Emancipation,” “Musicology” and “3121,” plus UMG can now work with the estate on the artist’s vault of career-spanning unreleased works.
Beginning next year, UMG will obtain the U.S. rights to what it describes as “certain renowned albums” released by Prince between 1979 and 1995. No further explanation was given, but the time period comprises Prince’s initial deal with Warner Bros., comprising some 19 albums including “Purple Rain,” “1999,” “Diamonds and Pearls,” “Sign O’ the Times,” “Controversy,” “Parade” and “Batman.”
Warner announced a deal late last year to release a greatest hits album and an expanded edition of “Purple Rain” featuring unreleased material. Warner’s rights to that material are complex — with differing terms for different territories (and different terms for film soundtracks like Batman and Purple Rain), and some rights being held in perpetuity and others set to expire in 2021, a source close to the situation tells Billboard.
The agreement means UMG is now the home for much of Prince’s recorded music, plus publishing rights and merchandising. Universal’s publishing arm, UMPG, announced in November that it had become the exclusive worldwide publishing administrator for Prince’s entire catalog. At the time, negotiations for the licensing rights to much of Prince’s overall catalog, as well as to four decades’ worth of unreleased material, were ongoing.
Longtime Prince associates L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman represented the estate in both negotiations. “I am thrilled the NPG catalog and Prince’s highly sought after unreleased recordings will reside with UMG, where we have found a partner who is passionate about presenting Prince’s music with a holistic vision that celebrates his iconic status across recorded music, publishing and merchandise and will continue to deliver the highest quality experiences that fans have come to expect,” commented McMillan. “I’m looking forward to seeing Lucian and Michele achieve great things for Prince’s fans, his estate and heirs.”