As expected, the Universal Music Group has announced a multi-year agreement with Prince's estate and NPG Records, granting the major label group exclusive licensing rights to much of the late artist's catalog of released and unreleased works. Much of the material dates from the latter part of Prince's career, after he parted ways with Warner Bros. Records in 1996.
Under the deal, the estate is licensing the 25 albums Prince released under the NPG Records label, including Emancipation, Musicology and 3121, plus UMG can now work with the estate on the artist's vault of career-spanning unreleased works.
Beginning next year, UMG will obtain the U.S. rights to what it describes as "certain renowned albums" released by Prince between 1979 and 1995 -- though that's as specific as they're getting. That time period comprises Prince's initial deal with Warner Bros. -- by far his most commercially and critically successful era, comprising some 19 albums including Purple Rain, 1999, Diamonds and Pearls, Sign O' the Times, Controversy, Parade and Batman -- although it seems likely that UMG would be licensing lesser-known albums such as 1995's Chaos and Disorder.