Prince’s digital catalog is heading back to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music after over 18 months as an exclusive to Tidal, multiple sources have confirmed.
A majority of the musician’s catalog will be available on Sunday to coincide with the Grammys’ tribute to the singer, though it is unclear exactly when the catalog will be available.
Prince pulled his music from the major streaming services in June 2015. A month later, he aligned with Jay Z’s Tidal, offering the service his “Baltimore” and then-upcoming LPHit n Run, as well as the exclusive streaming rights of his back catalog and other goodies from his legendary vaults. A surprise second new LP, Hit n Run Phase Two, arrived in December 2015.
“After one meeting, it was obvious that Jay Z and the team he has assembled at Tidal recognize and applaud the effort that real musicians put in2 their craft 2 achieve the very best they can at this pivotal time in the music industry,” Prince said of his Tidal deal.
However, four months after Hit N Run Phase Two landed, Prince died unexpectedly at his Paisley Park compound, leaving his estate without specified heirs or an appointed executor. Placed under the administration of a Minnesota bank as well as Prince’s siblings, the estate would later establish a publishing deal with Universal Music for Prince’s catalog, a pact that threatened Prince’s Tidal agreement.
The fissure in the relationship between the Prince estate and Jay Z’s Tidal and parent company Roc Nation was further exposed in November, when the two sides went to court to determine whether Tidal held the exclusive rights to Prince’s digital catalog following the late icon’s death; in a separate action, the Prince estate sued Tidal for streaming 15 Prince albums without permission.
The estate also argued that Tidal never had an exclusivity deal with Prince in writing, and that the streaming service didn’t make good on a $750,000 advance owed to the singer. In Tidal’s suit, the service accused the Prince estate of secretly negotiating with other streaming services.
While the lawsuits continue to play out in court, a judge subsequently ruled on January 30th that Tidal and Roc Nation did in fact pay $3 million to Prince as part of his initial deal with the streaming service, including the $750,000 that the estate called into question.
Following Universal’s acquisition of Prince’s publishing rights, the estate reopened dialogue with services like Spotify and Apple Music, with a target of reintroducing the catalog in time for the Grammys. Amazon Music and IHeartRadio also confirmed that music from Prince’s catalog will be available on their services, with the latter offering the catalog on new subscription services iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access.
Before any deals between the streaming services and the estate were officially announced, Spotify not-so-subtly began trumpeting the arrival of Prince’s catalog in late January with a series of purple billboards in New York’s Union Square subway station.
Last October, Warner Bros. and NPG Records announced the releases of a remastered version of Purple Rain and the greatest hits collection Prince 4Ever. The latter, released last November, included “Moonbeam Levels,” a previously unreleased song recorded in 1982 during the 1999 sessions.
On Thursday, the singer’s estate announced an agreement with Universal Music Group to release his music recorded after 1995 alongside music from his vault, including outtakes, demos and live recordings.
By Daniel Kreps