Prince’s Estate, Universal Reach Music Catalog Deal

By Sameer Rao Feb 10, 2017

Universal Music Group (UMG) announced yesterday (February 9) that it finalized an agreement to purchase the rights to more than 20 years of Prince‘s music. 

"Under the terms of the deal, the estate is licensing to UMG the 25 albums that Prince released through NPG Records, a label founded by the artist that includes double platinum- and gold-certified albums "Emancipation," "Musicology" and "3121," reads a statement on UMG’s website announcing the deal. "The agreement also provides for UMG and the estate to collaborate with regard to Prince’s vault of prized unreleased works from throughout his career, including outtakes, demos and live recordings."

According to his Allmusic biography, Prince departed his longtime label, Warner Bros., in 1996 after years of contract conflicts. He released that year’s "Emancipation" through NPG and continued to publish most of his music on that label until his death in 2016.

UMG’s statement added that beginning in 2018, the company "will obtain U.S. rights to certain renowned Prince albums released from 1979 to 1995." That time period includes works like "1999" and "Purple Rain," but the statement did not specify which of those albums are part of the deal or how much UMG paid for the licensing rights.

Fans will soon be able to listen to Prince’s pre-1995 catalog with more ease. CNN confirmed rumors today (February 10) that his Warner Bros.-era music will become available on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and iHeartRadio this Sunday (February 12). As Pitchfork reported at the time, Prince removed his music from all streaming services besides Tidal in 2015. The new availability coincides with a star-studded tribute during Sunday’s 59th Grammy Awards.