Last month, word came down that a portion of Prince’s legendary catalog would finally be making its way to Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services (likely in time for the Grammys). The move only covered music owned by Warner Bros., however, which left the status of decades of material still up in the air. Well, it now looks as if those releases could become available sooner rather than later, as Universal Music Group has acquired the rights to a huge collection of the Prolific Purple Performer’s independent and unreleased music.
UMG has announced a multi-year deal with Prince’s estate that gives them control of the records released via his independent NPG label. More than 25 albums are part of the agreement, beginning with the 1996 triple-disc Emancipation and ending with 2015’s HITNRUN albums. The deal also gives UMG a chance to work with the estate on any projects that come from Prince’s infamous vault of unreleased music.
“I am thrilled the NPG catalog and Prince’s highly sought after unreleased recordings will reside with UMG,” said L. Londell McMillan, a representative for the artist’s estate, “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.”
There’s no specific word yet on what UMG will do with the music, but they do own all licensing rights and have been negotiating deals for the last few months.
Billboard reports that UMG is also looking to buy the US rights to “certain renowned albums” Prince released between 1979 and 1995. That time period saw Prince put out classics like Purple Rain, 1999, Sign O’ the Times, and more through Warner Bros. It would seem unlikely WB would want to relinquish those rights, and UMG would presumably be looking towards less popular releases like 1995’s Chaos and Disorder.
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