When Prince died last April he was obviously one of the most searched artists on streaming services as people looked to mourn his death, but his music is sadly not available on any streaming platforms except Tidal after he struck an exclusive deal with the service two years ago. It seems that is close to changing. The late, great icon’s estate is closing in on deals that would make his most popular songs like “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” available to be played in public. His estate is also looking to cement a deal with a record label, as one of Prince’s representatives told Bloomberg last week. Both are steps toward their ultimate wish of having his music available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music, and the estate would like to have that come to fruition before the Grammy awards ceremony next month.
Bremer Trust, the court-appointed administrator of Prince’s estate, is the organization facilitating all of these moves. They are locked in a legal battle with Tidal after filing a lawsuit against Roc Nation and Tidal parent company Aspiro when the streaming service made 15 Prince albums available last year. Bremer Trust alleges that Tidal was only given an exclusive 90-day license for a newly recorded studio album titled Hit N Run, and that Tidal had committed copyright infringement by putting the albums up on the streaming service. Aspiro, in both probate court and Minnesota federal court, suggested that it received more rights than Bremer is claiming. The Hollywood Reporter reports that yesterday Aspiro filed an answer to the lawsuit along with Roc Nation in a separate filing. Both Aspiro and Roc Nation assert that NPG Records lacks valid copyright registrations and has committed copyright misuse. Aspiro also believes that claims may be barred because Bremer “lacks the requisite authority to authorize the instant lawsuit” and because “Plaintiffs are not the real parties in interest with respect to the claims asserted.”
It seems like Prince’s music will not be available on streaming platforms by the Grammys, if at all, unless this mess can be untangled quickly.