Prince Estate Calls Heirs’ Bid to Scuttle Tidal Deal ‘Meritless’

Remembering Prince

In a letter dated Wednesday, an attorney for Prince’s estate called a request by three of the late artist’s heirs for a reconsideration of its recent agreement with Tidal, which would include a week’s exclusive streaming rights to an album of unreleased material, “meritless” and asked that it be denied.

The agreement, announced last month, “concludes the previously unresolved legal matters between the Prince Estate and Tidal,” which had been ongoing in the wake of the confused state of the artist’s business affairs after his death from an accidental overdose in April 2016, according to a release. Attorneys for heirs Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson and John R. Nelson submitted a heavily redacted request on Tuesday that, according to Wednesday’s response letter, requested reconsideration of that agreement. That deal included streaming rights for an upcoming album of unreleased Prince material — which would be exclusive to the service for one week, and which Jay-Z himself would help curate — that is presumably part of a larger deal with Sony Music, news of which Variety broke last week and which has still not been confirmed by the estate.

In the estate’s response, attorney Lora M. Friedemann argues that “The Nelsons fail to raise any issue that merits reconsideration,” stating, among other claims, that their request is “based on accusations about Tidal reported in one newspaper article in Norway over six weeks ago,” which claims that Tidal falsified its streaming numbers for high-profile releases including Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” and Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” The Nelsons’ letter fails to acknowledge that Tidal has denied the allegations as ‘lies and falsehoods,’ and has stated that information ‘was stolen and manipulated.’ Unproven media reports do not constitute an ‘intervening legal development,’ or demonstrate that the Court’s Order was ‘palpably wrong in some respect.’

“The Nelsons’ request is meritless and should be denied,” she concludes.

The heirs’ attorney did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.

In 2015, Prince struck a deal with Tidal that made it, at the time, the exclusive streaming partner for his catalog. After his death, most of his Warner catalog returned to all major streaming services in February of last year, but much of it remained either unavailable or only on Tidal while the two parties worked to settle the deal. That agreement was announced last month.