Universal Music Group currently has a partnership in place with Prince and the late musicians legendary music catalog. Now the world’s largest record company wants out of the $31 million deal, citing fraud on behalf of the estate’s former entertainment advisor. In court documents filed by the estate’s administrator, UMG is seeking the entire $31 million deal cancelled and the money refunded.
According to Billboard, the issue stems from a deal put in place this past February when L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman, then the estate’s entertainment advisors, announced a deal between the Prince estate and UMG that would grant the label access to Prince’s post-1996 catalog released under NPG Records globally. The agreement also included unreleased and US rights to “certain renowned” records created during his peak from 1979-1996 while he was signed to (and battled) Warner Bros. Records.
It’s an entanglement of various albums under contract and agreement. UMG attempted to accelerate the deal given the anniversary of Prince’s sudden death last April right as questions began emerging about whether or not the estate had misrepresented the licensing rights it had sold to UMG. While some of the albums mentioned in the deal could be available to UMG as early as next year, Warner’s rights on those particular albums do not expire until 2021.
McMillan has denied any misrepresentation took place. Both he and Koppelman have since been replaced by Spotify’s global head of creative services Troy Carter. Carter has already stated that the estate will be “assessing all rights to Prince’s recorded music.”
A hearing has been set for later this month regarding UMG’s desire to cancel the deal.
Since the legendary musician’s passing last April, the estate has been under considerable controversy. Earlier this month, they had to pay a label $1 million in order to shutter an unauthorized new album. Without a will or testament, there is no designated heir to Prince’s fortune, valued at over $200 million. Music wise, Prince’s albums have been available on all streaming platforms since late January, despite Prince originally wanting all of his music be on Jay Z’s TIDAL platform only. With a new concert film recorded during the Purple Rain era scheduled to be released potentially on all streaming platforms, the right to His Royal Badness’ material is only going to get messier on all sides.