Prince estate deal with Universal Music Group rescinded

Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide has rescinded a $31 million dollar deal between Universal Music Group and the Prince estate. According to a recent story, a large portion of Universal’s deal with the Prince estate was nullified after it was revealed that the agreement would not include distribution rights to Prince’s pre-1996 music. Additionally, Universal will receive back its $31 million dollars.

Both Universal and Comerica Bank asked the Court to nullify the agreement because it may have resulted in a conflict with Warner Music Group’s rights. Commerica Bank is the current administrator of the Prince estate. Universal’s deal was negotiated under the previous administrator, Bremer Trust, and a former adviser, L. Londell McMillan.

After the deal was made, Universal learned that Warner Brothers owned the rights to Prince’s music recorded between 1979 to 1995 until 2021 not 2018.

Comerica Bank took the position that Bremer Trust and L. Londel McMillan had sold rights to Universal that Warner already owned. Consequently, Comerica Bank could not assure Universal or the Court that there was no overlap in the subject music rights.

Decision avoids litigation and saves time and costs

In deciding to set aside the deal, Justice Eide stated that while the Court was reluctant to grant the rescission, the possibility of lengthy and expensive litigation was far worse.

The Court found no wrongdoing by L. Londell McMillan. Universal Music Group controls the rights to administer Prince’s publishing worldwide and to make his merchandise.

A joint statement was released by Universal and the Prince estate welcoming the Court’s approval of their amicable resolution.

In an earlier ruling Justice Eide confirmed that Prince had no will at the time of his death. He also found that Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings, Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson, Omarr Baker and Alfred Jackson were the rightful heirs. The beneficiaries stand to receive millions of dollars. The Prince estate is believed to be worth upwards of $200 million.

The decision to set aside the deal with Universal now allows the estate to look for other buyers for the recording music rights. As a result, the estate is likely to generate additional revenue without delays caused by the uncertainty of litigation.

Finally, it seems like the parties are open to working together to administer the estate and avoid hostility. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

More on this story here.