Universal Chosen As The Exclusive Publisher Of Prince’s Unreleased Music
The bidding war over rights to the expansive, unreleased catalog of songs that Prince long stowed away at Paisley Park has come to an end.
Prince’s estate announced Thursday that Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), one of the “Big Three” record labels in talks to license the late music icon’s unreleased recordings, was named exclusive worldwide publishing administrator.
Neither party shared details of the deal, but a source close to the arrangement told Billboard that it is a “long term agreement.”
Reports from mid-October allege Prince’s estate was shopping the vault for about $35 million. However, it is unclear if the publishing rights went for that amount or more given that rapper Jay Z bid $40 million, according to claims by TMZ.
“With the timelessness and genius of Prince’s music, there are no limits to what we can achieve working with his estate,” UMPG CEO Jody Gerson said in a statement. “Prince’s popularity will only continue to grow around the world.”
According to TCB’s July feature “A Princely Sum,” the extent of the vault’s contents has never been publically disclosed. Susan Rogers, who spent years as Prince’s recording engineer, said by the time she left in 1989 there were already more than 2,000 songs in the vault. On top of that, Prince’s former tour manager Alan Leeds said Prince also recorded every concert he ever played, meaning there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of live show recordings that could be curated and sold.
UMPG at one point held a publishing contract with Prince in 2001. That contract ended in 2014 with Prince and his staff taking over management of his own publishing catalog.
Charles Koppelman, CEO of CAK Entertainment, and L. Londell McMillan, CEO of NorthStar Enterprises Worldwide—both of whom worked with Prince’s estate to secure the UMPG deal—said in a joint statement: “We are pleased that UMPG shall once again administer Prince’s music publishing worldwide and assist the estate by giving Prince’s iconic music catalog the proper care and support it deserves.”
The two added that the arrangement would allow Prince’s estate to maintain ownership of the music, limiting UMPG to packaging and distributing the unreleased music in new collections.
The deal with UMPG will not conflict with a previous agreement Prince made with Warner Bros. In 2014, the two agreed to release a deluxe edition of Purple Rain, which is said to arrive in early 2017.