Universal Music is apparently suffering from buyer's remorse. 10 weeks after completing a deal that was rumored to be north of $30 million, UMG is not seeing return on its investment; thanks, it appears, to a complex deal that Prince had with Warner Music Group.
UMG announced in February that they had licensed the majority of Prince's recordings since 1996, including by 2018, the U.S. rights to his 1979 to 1995 releases on Warner Bros. Records, including the hit albums “1999,” “Purple Rain,” “Parade,” “Batman,” and “Diamonds and Pearls” albums.
But Prince had cut a new deal with Warner in 2014. Terms of that deal are unknown, but appear to make UMG's 2018 control of these albums less clear.
Without them, UMG appears ready to walk away and ask for a full $30 million refund. A source told Variety it is possible that Universal could revise the existing downward, but that, the source says, is unlikely.
Prince’s biggest hits are 25 to 35 years old. “Every day these assets aren’t being exploited, that’s lost money that you’ll never get back,” the source said. “And the longer they’re tied up, the more you lose.”