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Tidal responds to lawsuit filed by Prince estate

By | Published on Wednesday 11 January 2017


Rumours have been circulating of late that representatives for the Prince estate are now busy negotiating with the key streaming services about getting the late musician’s full catalogue onto those platforms. And, the pesky gossipers say, next month’s Grammy Awards are seen as a target date, because the Prince tribute due to take place there is expected to send fans speeding to the net seeking to revisit their favourites from the musician’s oeuvre.

So that’s nice. But what about that exclusivity deal with Tidal, hey? Well, what about that exclusivity deal with Tidal indeed. You might remember that in November Prince’s NPG record label and music publishing business – which are currently controlled by estate administrators the Bremer Trust – sued Tidal parent company Aspiro and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation over all the Prince tunes they keep on streaming.

Prior to his death, Prince allied with Tidal ahead of the release of his final two albums, ‘Hit N Run Phase One’ and ‘Hit N Run Phase Two’. Much of Prince’s music was pulled off the other streaming services as Tidal got exclusivity periods around both the new records. And Prince’s Tidal exclusive alliance seemed to cover his catalogue too, which gave the digital music platform a nice little boost as interest in the musician’s songs peaked again following his death last April.

But, said NPG in its lawsuit last November, the administrator of the Prince estate couldn’t find any agreement giving Tidal the rights to stream the musician’s catalogue, on an exclusive basis or otherwise. In fact, the only paperwork the estate had access to – a letter of intent – didn’t even given Tidal the rights to stream part two of the ‘Hit N Run’ album.

When it went legal, the Bremer Trust said: “Despite [our] repeated requests, and Roc Nation’s multiple filings [to the court], Tidal and Roc Nation have not provided any documentation or evidence of any oral or implied agreement granting Roc Nation any rights beyond those rights granted in the letter of intent”.

Tidal and Roc Nation formally responded to that legal claim this week repeating statements previously submitted to the probate court to the effect that the streaming firm did in fact have both written and oral agreements with Prince prior to his death covering his catalogue material as well as the new recordings.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tidal’s new court filing says that: “With the long-established course of dealing, between Mr Nelson [Prince] and Aspiro, plaintiffs were fully aware that Aspiro would proceed to offer Mr Nelson’s works based on his promises and plaintiffs reasonably expected or should have expected Aspiro to rely on those promises and to expend time, effort and money to bring Mr Nelson’s works to the public”.

It adds: “Acting in accordance with the long-established course of dealing, Aspiro justifiably relied on those promises”.

Tidal’s lawyers also throw some extra technicalities into the mix, questioning whether Bremer has “the requisite authority to authorise the instant lawsuit” because “plaintiffs are not the real parties in interest with respect to the claims asserted”. Questions are also made regarding NPG’s copyright registrations, alongside allegations of ‘copyright misuse’.

So, that’s all fun isn’t it? Now we just need the Grammys to pick Jay-Z to lead its Prince tribute.