The death of legendary performer Prince earlier this year left a hole in the hearts of his scores of devoted fans. It has also created some legal turmoil about who will emerge with the rights to Prince’s vast music catalog. Universal Music Publishing Group bought the rights last week, but it now faces an unexpected hurdle before the deal can be closed.
The Purple One had released his final albums exclusively on Tidal. The streaming service is now arguing that the terms of the deal for Hit n Run Phase One and Hit n Run Phase Two included the rights to all of Prince’s master recordings.
If Tidal does secure the rights, then it’s likely Prince will remain a streaming exclusive for that company. That would be a big win for the still-young streaming service, which has also been the exclusive home to music by Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Kanye West.
If Universal retains the rights, then it’s more likely that the Prince catalog will stream across many services. Until the results of the sale and Tidal’s challenge are resolved, the artist’s estate still formally owns the catalog.