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Spotify adverts fuel rumours of Prince’s return to streaming services

By | Published on Tuesday 31 January 2017


Is Prince’s music about to return to the streaming services (other than Tidal)? That seems to be what Spotify is suggesting, having pasted up a load of solid purple adverting posters in New York’s Union Square subway station yesterday. I have also painted my hi-fi purple in the hope that this works.

Prince pulled his music down from all streaming services except Tidal in 2015, as well as making what would be his final two albums available exclusively to Jay-Z’s platform. The legality of that arrangement is currently in dispute – the musician’s estate arguing that the only piece of paperwork related to any exclusivity deal with Tidal is a letter referring only to the first of those two final albums. On the back of that, the estate went legal last November.

Claiming that Prince, prior to this untimely death, wasn’t aware that Tidal, and only Tidal, was streaming his music – including two albums delivered only to that one company – seems foolish, of course. However, it’s generally thought that the estate is quibbling over whether or not those deals were actually signed because of a desire to get Prince’s music more widely available again.

That has become more urgent, because the estate reportedly wants that music back on all the streaming services in time for an expected boost in attention when the Grammy Awards pays tribute to the musician next month.

However, according to Billboard, one of the outgoing administrators of Prince’s estate, L Londell McMillan, said just last week that no agreements were yet in place, and it was not assured that they would be before the Grammys. However, Spotify’s new adverts would suggest that this has changed – or at least that Spotify is confident that it’s all now a formality.

Earlier this month, Tidal fought back against the estate’s lawsuit, arguing that Prince had a well established way of doing deals, and regardless of what had or hadn’t been signed, the company was acting in accordance with his wishes. It also claimed that the “plaintiffs are not the real parties in interest with respect to the claims asserted”.

It’s entirely likely that this bold talk was intended to force a better settlement – knowing the urgency with which the estate wants this all sorted. If Tidal could convince them that it was willing to take this all the way to the courtroom, then that strengthens its negotiating position.

All this is based on a purple poster bearing a Spotify logo though. Prince didn’t own the colour purple. It can also signify royalty. So maybe this is just Spotify’s new way of distributing artist payments.