By: Renee Grant
The battle for control over songs in Prince‘s storied music vault has been heating up for months, and it seems it may be coming to a head.
A $31M deal signed by His Purple Badness’ estate with Universal Music Group (UMG) has been in dispute, tied up in court for quite a while. The tussle results from the rights to the music, which may still belong to Prince’s former label, Warner Music Group (WMG).
On Friday (June 17), a court order granted UMG the right to view a 2014 WMG contract with Prince himself that, until now, has been confidential. Viewing the document would allow UMG to decide the validity of their current licensing contract, one of three that the company signed with Prince’s estate after his passing last April.
The UMG deal in question was inked in January, and brokered by L. Londell McMillan, Prince’s former attorney, serving as an advisor to the former administrator of Prince’s estate, Bremer Trust. He tells Billboard that he had access to the agreement signed by Prince with WMG and that he consulted with several lawyers to interpret it. He stands behind the UMG deal.
Three of Prince’s legal heirs would like to preserve the UMG deal, contending that cancellation of the contract would damage the estate’s reputation in future business dealings.