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News March 30, 2017

Tidal claims Prince was a co-owner as rights stoush heads to court

Tidal claims Prince was a co-owner as rights stoush heads to court

As the trial date for the case between Prince’s NPG Records and music streaming service Tidal gets nearer, Billboard reports that Tidal’s parent company has come up with a new defence.

Tidal’s co-owner, the Swedish-based Aspiro AB, served new court papers which claimthat Prince was actually a co-owner of Tidal.

Last November, in its move to get Prince on all the streaming services, his estate claimed that Tidal had no right to put 15 of his albums up for streaming.

It added that the new studio album Hit n Run that the late superstar agreed to licensingwas only for a 90-day deal.

Aspiro AB now raises up an Equity Term Sheet dated July 19, 2015 wherein the superstar “became an artist equity-owner of Tidal and received additional consideration.”

As a result, it argues, Prince was obliged to give his entire catalogue to Tidal to stream.

This is just one of court cases surrounding Prince since his death last April.

Two of his likely heirs, sister Tyka Nelson and half-brother Omarr Baker, last month took action against Bremer Trust, the bank which a court temporarily chose to administer the estimated US$300 million Prince estate for the past year.

The pair said that two executives that Bremer had hired to make money from Prince’s assets and struck a number of licensing deals – veteran entertainment attorneys L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman – had mismanaged last October 13’s tribute concert in Minneapolis.

They claimed that the concert announced major acts before they confirmed and had to be moved to a smaller venue in the end.

They also alleged they have not been paid a guaranteed $7 million from the show.

Bremer distanced itself, insisting it was not liable for McMillan and Koppelman’s actions. It also said that Prince’s family had played a major role in putting the show on, and needed to take part responsibility.

Bremer had earlier indicated that it would not apply to represent the estate after the court appointed period. Comerica Bank and Trust N.A. took over permanently last month.

Nelson and Baker are applying for Bremer to be ordered by a court to continue its relationship with the Prince estate until this issue is sorted out.

Last month too, a US judge also gave Tidal the green light to make a claim on the bank for an advance that the Jay-Z led streaming service allegedly gave Prince in exchange for the rights to distribute four of his final recordings.

Only two of these, Hit and Run: Phase 1 and Hit and Run: Phase 2, went to Tidal. Phase 1 came out in September 2015, just after Prince pulled all his music from other streaming services.

However, the judge refused Tidal its demand to scrutinise the licensing agreements finalised by McMillan and Koppelman.

The company had claimed it had exclusive rights to Prince’s material, that no permission had been given to strike these deals, and that they could compromise agreements that Tidal could make in the future.

In a further issue, last November, the Prince estate and Universal Music announced a partnership where the major label would gain rights to Prince music.

Tidal maintains that it still has exclusive streaming rights to Prince’s music.


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