Much has been speculated and written about in terms of the music of Prince Rogers Nelson since the globally famous guitarist died at the age of 57 back in 2016. Since then, a handful of rumors have spread regarding the acquisition of rights to Prince’s music, both released and unreleased. Early Wednesday morning, Variety announced that Sony Music Entertainment (SME) has reached a deal with Prince’s estate to acquire the distribution rights to 35 previously released albums from The Purple One’s catalog.
According to the report, 19 of Prince's album releases from 1995 to 2010 will immediately begin worldwide distribution via Legacy Recordings (Sony Music subsidiary), with more album titles from 2014-2015 set to follow in the coming years. As Billboard points out, some of the previous releases included in the deal include 1995’s The Gold Experience, 1996’s Emancipation, 1999’s Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, 2011’s The Rainbow Children and many more that were originally distributed by Columbia Records.
Also included in the new deal is Sony’s expanded distribution rights in the United States for 12 non-soundtrack catalog albums initially released back in 1978-1996, which is set to begin in the year 2021. Some of those albums include 1979’s Prince, 1981’s Controversy, 1985’s Around the World in a Day and 1988’s Lovesexy, just to name a few. Unfortunately for Sony, 1984’s Purple Rain and music from the 1989 Batman soundtrack were not included in the deal, since they’re still under contract at Warner Bros. The report also details that there is no mention of any unreleased material set to be included, as those will most likely remain in Prince’s highly sought after vault for the foreseeable future.
Sony’s acquisition of the catalog also includes distribution rights to “other previously released material recorded post-1995 including singles, b-sides, remixes, non-album tracks, live recordings and music videos.”
The well-known industry veteran, manager and Prince estate advisor Troy Carter mentioned in a statement, "The Sony team's enthusiasm and deep knowledge of Prince's music make them the ideal partner to release these iconic bodies of work. We're looking forward to working with the heirs and Sony on giving fans what they've been waiting for -- more great music from Prince."
As previously reported, Jay-Z is still partially curating a full-length album comprised of previously unreleased material from Prince’s vault for TIDAL, with an expected release date sometime in 2019. In celebration of what would have been his 60th birthday last month, Prince’s estate shared the first single from a 9-track live posthumous album titled Piano & A Microphone: 1983, which is due out this September.