Monday, May 14, 2018

Tidal and Prince estate end legal battle, plan rarities release together | UNLIMITED | CMU


Tidal has made up good with the Prince estate and to prove it the streaming service will get a two week exclusive on a new album of previously unreleased recordings from the late musician’s archives. Yep, it’s another Tidal exclusive. Which presumably means this new Prince record will stream eight million billion trillion times in its first week online.

Prince allied with Tidal before his untimely death in 2016 with a deal that saw the Jay-Z led streaming service score an exclusive on what turned out to be the musician’s final releases. However, Tidal was of the opinion that that arrangement also provided it with exclusive rights to stream Prince’s back catalogue as well.

But following his death, representatives for Prince’s estate said they could only find evidence of an agreement regarding newer material, and no paperwork to back up the claim that the deal covered older releases too. Ultimately the estate – via Prince’s NPG label and publishing business – sued various companies associated with Tidal, including Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, for allegedly streaming the Prince catalogue without licence.

A legal battle then ensued, with Tidal insisting that it had reached both written and oral agreements with Prince – and one of his business advisors, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins – which offered the pop star equity in the streaming business in return for some exclusive rights to both future and past releases.

The estate disagreed, and at one point told the judge overseeing the dispute that it had “uncovered evidence that the alleged contract the defendants are relying on in this action” – which was an equity term sheet – “was fabricated and back-dated to appear authentic”.

All in all, it had the makings of a very entertaining court battle. But that is not to be, because last week a joint statement came out from both the estate and Tidal confirming the new partnership and the planned new rarities release. That statement also confirmed that this new deal “concludes the previously unresolved legal matters between The Prince Estate and Tidal”.

As for the new record, it will “contain previously unreleased music sourced from Prince’s vast archive of vault recordings” and is “expected to be released in 2019”. Tidal will get a two week streaming exclusive of that record, though the album will be available for download seven days after its debut on the streaming platform, and a physical release will also follow.

The recordings on the new record come from the vault of unreleased tracks that was initially entrusted to Universal Music via its deal with the estate. But that agreement untangled over confusion as to which of Prince’s more famous records were also covered by the deal. Which was in turn caused by confusion over the specifics of the most recent contract Prince signed with Warner Music while still alive. The estate is concurrently working with Warner on other posthumous Prince releases.

Confirming his deal with the Prince estate, Jay-Z told reporters on Friday: “Our only goal is to share Prince’s music with his fans as he wanted. After thoughtful and honest conversation with him, he chose Tidal as his partner for [final albums] ‘Hit And Run: Phase 1’ and ‘Hit And Run: Phase 2’, and we will continue to respect and honour Prince’s enduring legacy and wishes with this new collection”.

Speaking for the estate, Troy Carter (having temporarily removed his nice green Spotify hat, presumably), added: “I’m very pleased this is resolved, and we get to honour the relationship between Prince and Tidal with this album. We look forward to fans hearing the new music and experiencing the genius of Prince”.


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