Jay-Z told us on 4:44‘s “Caught Their Eyes” that he “sat down with Prince eye to eye,” and came to an understanding about putting the famously protective artist’s music on Tidal. Prince even said in 2015, just five months before his death, that Tidal will “win on this” streaming music race, in part because Jay-Z is “slick with his.” That’s why many people may hope he wasn’t too slick for his own good and did what NPG Records, who oversee the copyright on over 500 Prince songs, is alleging in recently filed court papers.
Digital Music News, the same outlet that initially reported on Jay-Z’s poor ticket sales for his 4:44 tour, posted paperwork on their site from an NPG lawsuit that alleges Prince’s catalog was placed on Tidal fraudulently:
“After Prince passed away, Tidal began streaming additional Prince works, including hundreds of works Prince did not authorize, and which had never before been available online…Tidal did not communicate with the Estate before it began exploiting these works, let alone obtain a license.”
NPG Records, who initially sued Tidal in 2016, allege that an equity term sheet, the contract lays out the terms of Tidal’s agreement with Prince, “was fabricated and backdated to appear authentic.” Additionally, the lawsuit claims that Tidal took liberties with Prince’s music that wasn’t consistent with the language of the term sheet and that Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Prince’s manager who negotiated with Tidal, is withholding documents from NPG along with Tidal and Roc Nation in a veritable “scam” to cheat Prince’s estate.
Those are heavy allegations. We have reached out to Tidal for comment on the matter and will update if we receive a statement.