Universal buys exclusive rights to Prince's extensive private music archive

Roisin O'Connor
Getty

Universal has announced a deal with Prince's estate that will give it exclusive licensing rights to the late artist's work.

The world's biggest music label will be able to release much of Prince's private archive, and has also acquired the rights to 25 albums that he released through the label he founded, NPG Records.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed but reports last year suggested that the unreleased music was up for sale for $35 million (£29m).

In a statement Universal said it had reached a multi-year agreement with the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson and NPG Records.

Sir Lucian Grange, chairman and 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 honour 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 honouring Prince's legacy and vision by creating the highest quality products and experiences."

Universal's executive vice president Michele Anthony added that it was an honour "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".

Universal's music publishing division became the administrator for Prince's songwriting catalogue in November. It also struck a merchandising deal with his estate in January 2017.

It was recently confirmed that Prince's music will return to streaming services on Sunday, NPR reports.

Napster confirmed the rumours that his Warner Bros. catalogue, which includes classics such as 'Purple Rain', '1999', 'Sign O' the Times' and 'Dirty Mind', will arrive on the same day as the Grammy awards.

The material covered under Universal's new deal is not set to be part of that release.

Apple Music, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio subscription services are among those that will host the music.

Spotify has not commented, but purple-hued Spotify adverts were spotted at Union Square subway station in Manhattan last week, suggesting that a return of Prince's music to the service is imminent.