Prince estate seeks to stop unofficial EP release
By Chris Cooke | Published on Thursday 20 April 2017
The Prince estate has gone legal over the planned release of six previously unheard tracks by the late musician, which are set to be released this Friday by the producer of the recordings.
Producer Ian Boxill plans to put out the six track EP via a company called Rogue Music Alliance, a label services set-up that says it operates a “hub of label-esque services”, while “partnering with artists to form their own micro label” in a bid to “inspire other artists to step outside the status quo”.
Boxill, who seemingly worked with Prince between 2006 and 2008, reckons that putting out the tracks – which the producer has completed since the musician’s untimely death a year ago – via an independent label services operation is what his one-time collaborator would have wanted.
While announcing the planned release of the ‘Deliverance’ EP, the producer said: “Prince once told me that he would go to bed every night thinking of ways to bypass major labels and get his music directly to the public. When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent because that’s what Prince would have wanted”.
Not so, reckons the Prince estate. What Prince would have wanted, it counters, is for Boxill to honour his contract with the musician. And that contract, the estate claims, said that ownership of any content and copyrights created via the two men’s collaborations would sit with Prince.
But, reps for the estate added in a statement to Billboard: “Mr Boxill did not comply with his agreement. Instead, Mr Boxill maintained copies of certain tracks, waited until after Prince’s tragic death, and is now attempting to release tracks without the authorisation of the estate and in violation of the agreement and applicable law”.
The estate also confirmed that it is now pursuing action through the federal courts to halt the release and distribution of the ‘Deliverance’ EP, which was set to hit Apple platforms this Friday, with a subsequent physical release also promised.
So that’s all fun, isn’t it? The legal disputes have been slowly building around Prince’s legacy in the year since his death. One potential legal battle that has been garnering much attention this week is the potential falling out between the estate and Universal Music over the latter’s $30 million deal to distribute a whole stack of Prince recordings, including some of his most famous albums in the US.
As previously reported, quite which Prince albums Universal can distribute when is dependent on the complicated deal Warner Music agreed with the musician in 2014. And last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Universal execs were now saying that the extent of the limitations the Warner contract places on their distribution deal is much more significant than expected. In a letter to the bank now administrating the estate the major said it believed the music industry experts who negotiated the deal for the Prince side misrepresented what recordings were available when.
Not so, says the entertainment lawyer who was until recently advising the Prince estate, L Londell McMillan. Responding to reports about Universal’s letter to Comercia Bank, McMillan has told Billboard: “I was a friend, attorney and manager for Prince for over a decade. Recently, I’ve been asked by the estate’s court approved representative to allow them the freedom to handle this matter; please note, however, there were no misrepresentations on this or any matter”.
He went on: “I’ve been practicing law and advising leading artists, athletes and businesses in entertainment and sports for over 27 years and my record with and outside of Prince speaks for itself. Any suggestion that there was any misrepresentation is false and without merit. There are many motives surrounding my friend Prince’s estate. We are proud of the work done with the Prince estate to protect it and monetise the assets in a manner he would approve”.
To think, if only McMillan had thought to secure a distribution partner “outside the status quo” which could provide “label-esque services” to Prince’s own “micro-label”, all this bother might have been avoided.