Prince Estate Strikes Deal With Sony Music (EXCLUSIVE)

UPDATED: Sony Music has struck a deal with Prince’s estate to license an unspecified catalog of the artist’s music, three sources close to the situation tell Variety, although it was unclear at press time whether the agreement had been finalized.

A rep for Sony Music had no comment; reps for Prince’s estate did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment.

A licensing deal for the material was struck with Universal in February of last year, but the assets were found to have been misrepresented by the estate’s entertainment advisors at the time, resulting in the rescission of that $31 million deal. That deal covered music representing the bulk of Prince’s post-1996 work, when he left Warner Bros. after 19 years with the label, as well as recordings dating from the Warner era under contracts that would expire in the next couple of years, along with material from his “vault” containing thousands of unreleased recordings. Terms of Sony’s deal were unclear at press time.

A court document “approving entertainment transaction” posted Thursday speaks of some objections from certain Prince heirs regarding that deal — which is not specified in the document — but concludes: “While the Court regrets that unanimous approval of the agreement among the Heirs could not be achieved …  the Court believes that entry into the modified agreement is in the best interest of the Estate and that the parties have now been able to negotiate the best possible agreement.”

Sources tell Variety the main points of contention in the Universal deal were the expiration dates of Warner’s rights to certain recordings, which are significant in the case of an artist whose commercial peak was 25 to 35 years ago; albums attached to soundtracks from Warner films — including Prince’s two all-time top-selling albums, “Purple Rain” and “Batman,” as well as “Parade” and “Graffiti Bridge” — also are subject to different terms. Prince was fiercely protective of his intellectual property and his estate owns the majority of his recorded work.

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