Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced a multi-year agreement with the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson and NPG Records Inc., effective immediately, which grants UMG exclusive licensing rights to the iconic artist’s Grammy-winning NPG recordings, including a library of 25 albums and his highly anticipated trove of unreleased works. This deal excludes Prince's Warner Music catalog.
With this agreement, UMG becomes the home for Prince’s music publishing, merchandise and much of Prince’s recorded music. According to the announcement, "the deal provides an opportunity for UMG to work closely with Prince’s Estate and heirs ... by creating innovative new products and experiences spanning the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s many artistic outlets."
Under the terms of the deal, the Estate is licensing to UMG the 25 albums that Prince released through NPG Records, a label founded by the artist that includes Double Platinum- and Gold-certified albums Emancipation, Musicology and 3121. The agreement also provides for UMG and the Estate to collaborate with regard to Prince’s vault of unreleased works from throughout his career, including outtakes, demos and live recordings. In addition, beginning next year UMG will obtain U.S. rights to certain Prince albums released from 1979 to 1995.
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman/CEO of UMG, said, "Prince was one of the greatest musical talents of all time – an incomparable genius as a performer, recording artist and songwriter. It’s an absolute honor to once again be selected by Prince’s estate to be the home for publishing, merchandise and now for so much of his incredible body of recordings. UMG is committed to honoring Prince’s legacy and vision by creating the highest quality products and experiences."
UMG EVP Michele Anthony said, "Prince is a music icon and his impact on culture will continue to reverberate across the world for generations to come. Having worked with Prince on-and-off for 20 years, I was fortunate to experience his incomparable passion, creativity and pursuit of perfection. It’s an honor professionally and personally to be entrusted with these cherished recordings, including his storied ‘vault’ of unreleased music, and to partner with his estate and heirs to preserve and expand Prince’s legacy."
Industry experts L. Londell McMillan, Chairman/CEO of The NorthStar Enterprises Worldwide and CharlesKoppelman, Chairman/CEO of CAK Entertainment Inc., represented Prince’s estate.
McMillan commented, "I am thrilled the NPG catalog and Prince’s highly sought after unreleased recordings will reside with UMG, where we have found a partner who is passionate about presenting Prince’s music with a holistic vision that celebrates his iconic status across recorded music, publishing and merchandise and will continue to deliver the highest quality experiences that fans have come to expect. I’m looking forward to seeing Lucian and Michele achieve great things for Prince’s fans, his estate and heirs."
Koppelman said, "I’m pleased to say, with UMG, Prince’s legacy is in very good hands. Lucian and his teams at Universal Music Publishing and Bravado are already generating great excitement and energy with Prince’s legions of fans who are demanding more ways to experience this incomparable talent. With UMG’s involvement, there will be so many more outlets around the world for experiencing the brilliance of this incomparable artist."
Additionally, Prince's music is expected to arrive on digital music services this weekend. According to the Financial Times, his catalog will debut on all the major digital streaming services in conjunction with the Grammys on Sunday night. Yesterday it was announced that a tribute to Prince will take place during the awards show.