Roc Nation, Prince Estate Clash Over Singer's Digital Catalog

Rolling Stone
Roc Nation, Prince Estate Clash Over Singer's Digital Catalog
Jay Z's Roc Nation and the Prince estate are clashing over the fate of the late singer's catalog and its exclusive deal with Tidal.

Jay Z's Roc Nation and the Prince estate are at odds over the fate of the late singer's catalog and its exclusive deal with the streaming service Tidal.

In documents filed into a Minnesota court over the past few months, both sides stated their claim to the catalog, which has streamed exclusively on Jay Z's service since Prince withdrew his catalog from all other services in July 2015.

In Roc Nation's petition, filed last Friday and obtained by Rolling Stone, the company asked the court to enforce what they claim is an agreed-upon arrangement with Prince concerning his digital catalog as well as "access to information concerning Bremer Trust," the administrator of Prince's estate, and their "business dealings."

An updated petition followed the Prince estate's deal to bring their in-house publishing, and thus the rights to Prince's catalog, to Universal Music as part of a new partnership. That deal, according to Billboard, would threaten Tidal's exclusive rights to Prince's catalog, as Universal and the estate would prefer to have Prince's music on additional streaming services to maximize revenue.

According to TMZ, the Prince estate filed a separate petition accusing Roc Nation and Tidal of streaming 15 Prince albums without authorization that fell outside their initial agreement with the musician.

While it's unclear which albums the estate took umbrage with, on June 7th, for what would have been Prince's 58th birthday, Tidal added 15 lesser-known albums from Prince's catalog – including his Black Album and Crystal Ball – as well as LPs from his "Artist Formerly Known As" period, live albums, the Girl 6 soundtrack and two New Power Generation albums.

Additionally, the estate's petition stated that they have found no proof that Tidal provided the $750,000 advance the service promised in exchange for Prince's Tidal-exclusive LP Hit N Run: Phase One; a source connected to the Prince estate told Rolling Stone they haven't found any paperwork proving Prince had a contract with Tidal. As such, the petition on behalf of the Prince estate aims "to disavow any claim of a contractual relationship with Tidal," the source said. Asked about the existence of a contract, a representative for Tidal directed Rolling Stone to Tidal's petition outlining terms of the agreement.

Under the terms of Tidal's initial deal with Prince, the service said they were promised streaming rights to Prince's next two LPs – Hit N Run: Phase One and Hit N Run: Phase Two – as well as an additional unreleased full-length studio album and streaming exclusivity to Prince's previously released catalog.

In June 2015, after Prince struck a deal with Tidal, the singer said in a statement, "After one meeting, it was obvious that Jay Z and the team he has assembled at Tidal recognize and applaud the effort that real musicians put in2 their craft 2 achieve the very best they can at this pivotal time in the music industry. Tidal have honored Us with a non-restrictive arrangement that once again allows Us to continue making art in the fashion We've grown accustomed 2 and We're extremely grateful 4 their generous support."

A representative for Stinson Leonard, the law firm representing Bremer Trust, the special administrator for Prince's estate, did not return multiple requests for comment. A representative for Jay Z declined to comment.

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