The Prince estate and Sony Music Entertainment's exclusive distribution deal has been officially announced.
Wednesday, Variety—which previously reported the then-speculative deal weeks ago—said the agreement will include 35 previously released albums by the Purple One. "A true artist and visionary, Prince changed the world with his music, bringing love, joy and inspiration to millions," SME Commercial Music Group boss Richard Story said Wednesday.
The specifics of the deal, the bulk of which doesn't take effect until 2021 under Sony's Legacy Recordings division, are fairly complicated. Below, we've highlighted a few crucial points:
- Prince mega-classics like 1999 and Sign O' the Times are among the 35 titles set to make the Sony move in 2021.
- Global rights for 19 albums—including Emancipation, 3121, Musicology, and more—will begin immediately.
- Several of Prince's biggest albums, including Purple Rain, are not part of the new deal due to their status as soundtrack recordings.
Earlier this month, the estate—in partnership with Purple Rain soundtrack distributor Warner Bros. Records—announced the impending release of a new nine-track collection titled Piano & A Microphone 1983. The previously unreleased collection is taken from home cassette recordings of familiar Prince cuts, all performed as piano-centered demos. "The Estate is excited to be able to give fans a glimpse of his evolution and show how his career ultimately came full circle with just him and his piano," the estate's entertainment adviser Tony Carter said, adding that the album is "similar in format" to the late legend's 2016 tour of the same name.
Last month saw the announcement of an exclusive-to-Tidal Prince album in 2019. It's unclear if that project, which was the subject of some debate immediately after its announcement, is affected by the new Sony deal. Per Variety's report Wednesday, the agreement makes "no mention" of it or Prince's vault of unreleased material.