×

New Details Emerge Around Universal’s Move to Nullify $31 Million Prince Deal

Further details have emerged around Universal Music Group’s demand to nullify a $31 million recorded-music deal it struck with the Prince estate in February. The details were included in a letter from estate manager Comerica Bank that was posted Wednesday on the Minnesota website housing legal documents related to the multiple legal matters surrounding the estate; the letter has since been removed. The details, which were first reported by Billboard, are significant in that they confirm the $31 million figure sources told Variety the deal was for, and that the company is accusing L. Londell McMillan, one of two former special advisors to the estate, of fraudulent inducement.

Confusion over the deal, which covered much of Prince’s recorded works after the termination of his 19-year-long initial deal with Warner Bros. in 1996, began as soon as it was announced in February. The announcement said that “beginning [in 2018], UMG will obtain U.S. rights to certain renowned Prince albums released from 1979 to 1995” — the years that the artist was signed with Warner Bros. Records and released his most commercially successful recordings by far, including the “1999,” “Purple Rain,” “Parade,” “Batman,” and “Diamonds and Pearls” albums. However, Prince had cut a new deal with Warner in 2014 that sources say garnered him the rights to the majority of his work released on the label (albeit with certain key exceptions). So how was UMG’s claim possible?

As Universal’s court action claims the rights were misrepresented and will not be available for several more years. McMillan and his fellow former adviser, Charles Koppelman, were replaced in April by Spotify’s head of creative services, Troy Carter. All three, as well as a rep for Universal, either declined or had not responded to Variety’s requests for comment.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that McMillan represents three of the estate’s six presumptive heirs. In a court hearing outside Minneapolis yesterday, judge Kevin Eide took four issues under advisement, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune: one involving the six siblings’ requests to be officially named his lawful heirs, another involving a claim over a consulting contract by Prince’s niece Brianna Nelson, and two involving McMillan. The three heirs represented by McMillan are seeking for him to have access to details of a $2 million licensing deal. However, Comerica Bank, which manages the estate, is looking into claims surrounding McMillan’s handling of a troubled Prince tribute concert in October.

Omarr Baker, one of Prince’s siblings who was previously represented by McMillan but has since split with him, has subpoenaed documents about McMillan’s business deals surrounding the estate. McMillan has sought to quash the subpoena, a matter Eide is also taking under advisement.

In an exchange of strongly worded memos over the past few weeks, the three heirs have also claimed, among other matters, that McMillan’s status as a representative of heirs and a special adviser to the estate was a conflict of interest; McMillan has denied any wrongdoing.

More Music

  • Kanye Kim Kardashian Selling Bel Air

    Kanye West, Kim Kardashian Lobbied Trump for A$AP Rocky's Release, Source Confirms

    Kanye West and Kim Kardashian lobbied President Trump to help release A$AP Rocky from jail in Sweden, a source close to the situation confirms to Variety. The news was first reported by TMZ. A$AP Rocky (real name: Rakim Myers) has been behind bars in the country since July 2 after being involved in an altercation [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Applies for Vernon Downs

    Woodstock 50 Applies for Vernon Downs Permit Yet Again

    For better or worse, Woodstock 50 isn’t giving up on Vernon Downs, despite being rejected twice already: The producers have applied for another permit to hold the festival at Vernon Downs, according to the Utica Observer Dispatch. Town Attorney Vincent Rossi confirmed the application was submitted Wednesday. This is the festival’s third application; previous applications [...]

  • Randy Travis Selling Nashville Condo

    Randy Travis Says 'Amen' to Condo in Nashville

    Multiplatinum-selling country music mandarin Randy Travis, who rarely performs publicly after a 2013 illness and stroke, has sold a house-sized condominium in the upscale Belle Meade area of ​​Nashville for $545,000, just shy of its $550,000 asking price. The seven-time Grammy winner and 2016 inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame acquired the top-floor [...]

  • Bert and Ernie

    Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt and 'Sesame Street' Among 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees

    Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, “Sesame Street,” conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and R&B veterans Earth, Wind and Fire have been selected as the 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees. The kudos will be handed out Dec. 8 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. The award to “Sesame Street” marks the first time the prestigious laurel [...]

  • AWAL Names Bianca Bhagat as Senior

    AWAL Names Bianca Bhagat as Senior VP, Synch & Brand Partnerships

    AWAL, Kobalt’s recorded music company, announced the hiring of Bianca Bhagat as senior vice president, synch & brand partnerships. Based in Los Angeles, she will oversee AWAL’s global synch & brand partnerships team, pursuing creative marketing opportunities for the AWAL roster, according to the announcement. Most recently with Glassnote, leading the Film and TV department [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content