Prince’s estate sold the late icon’s songwriting rights to Universal Music Publishing Group earlier this week and now Tidal is fighting for exclusivity.
via Page Six:
The Universal deal means that Prince’s songs could become more widely available on streaming services after Prince in life only allowed his music to stream through Jay Z’s Tidal service.
(Prince’s estate — managed by industry pros L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman, as assigned by bank Bremer Trust — still retains ownership of the songs, and there’s expectation of another major bidding war for recorded music rights to Prince’s catalog.)
But before the Universal deal was reached on Wednesday, Tidal — which exclusively put out Prince’s final albums “Hit n Run Phase One” and “Hit n Run Phase Two” — 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. In 2015, Prince pulled all his music from rival apps such as Spotify, leaving his tunes only on Tidal, a boon to the service when Prince passed. But the terms of the deal were unclear.
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.
Another source close to the situation told us that’s wishful thinking — that Tidal only had a one-year deal to stream Prince’s music, and it’s not entitled to rights going forward.
Making matters even more complicated, multiple sources said Prince’s siblings — who are also interested in controlling rights to his music — are not fans of McMillan.
But others close to the case tell us McMillan is not going anywhere and remains in charge with Koppelman to decide the fate of the tunes.
Reps for Bremer Trust, Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson and Tidal did not get back to us.
We’ll see what happens. It would be a major move for Tidal to secure Prince exclusivity.