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Universal Seeks To End Deal With Prince Estate

By: Renee Grant

A $31M deal between Universal Music Group and Prince‘s estate is currently in jeopardy, according to court documents filed on behalf of the estate’s administrator.

Related: Prince Estate Hoping To Bring Concert Film, Documentary To Streaming Services

The deal involved the catalog of Prince’s recorded music, UMG wants the deal dissolved and the money returned to the company on the grounds that the estate’s former entertainment advisor L. Londell McMillan acted fraudulently in order to secure the deal.

In February, McMillan and Charles Koppelman, then the estate’s entertainment advisors, reached the agreement that would grant UMG the exclusive global licensing rights to Prince’s catalog of music from 1996 forward, released under the NPG Records name. Certain unreleased material and the U.S. rights to “certain renowned albums” recorded from 1979 – 1996, released while he was under contract with Warner Bros., were also included in the deal. The Warner Bros. music was set to be licensed to UMG at a later date, which was said to be as early as 2018.

UMG run into issues when trying to finalize the deal, and as the one-year anniversary of his passing approached this year, questions arose as to whether the estate misrepresented the rights it sold to UMG. For example, while the deal said it would give rights to certain Warner Bros.-recorded music as early as next year, the company’s rights to that music aren’t set to expire until 2021.

Koppelman and McMillan have since been replaced by Philly native and Spotify’s global head of creative services Troy Carter.

A hearing is scheduled for later this month to hear both sides of the case.

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