The estate of the late Prince Rogers Nelson has decided not to go forward with an exclusive deal with Universal Music Group. UMG would have had exclusive rights to the vaulted recordings of the legendary musician, but haggling over what material could be released led to the end of talks for the $31 million deal.
Universal Music Group will get its $31 million back from the Prince estate, according to a court order issued Thursday.
After buying the rights to a package of Prince’s recorded music — including his “vault” of unreleased music and an array of other albums — in late January, a deal that had been structured as an advance on future royalties, a judge granted the estate administrator’s motion to void the deal due to ambiguity surrounding whether the rights conflicted with Warner Music Group’s rights.
The move raises the question of whether the estate’s former advisors, L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman, will keep the combined 10 percent commission they earned on the deal. McMillan, who worked as Prince’s attorney and business partner for more than a decade and currently serves as a business advisor to three of Prince’s half-sibling heirs, had been pushing both UMG and the court to preserve the deal in recent weeks, trying to assure UMG executives on a call last month that they would be able to exercise the rights they’d agreed to purchase.
Jay-Z mentioned L. Londell McMillan recently on his 4:44 album, insinuating that the former advisor to Prince has been motivated by greed regarding the estate.