Nearly a year after Prince's sudden death at the age of 57 on April 21, 2016, seemingly without a will, the late icon's estate is continuing to deal with processing his business affairs, including the fate of his recorded-music legacy. In February, Universal Music Group announced a deal to take over the licensing for Prince's post-1996 -- read: post-Warner Music Group -- recordings and unreleased works, adding that beginning in 2018 it will begin to obtain the rights to "certain renowned albums" from Prince's 1978-1996 WMG era.
But while that deal seemed to clear up some of the questions surrounding the complicated rights structure of Prince's musical legacy, it ultimately raised more questions than answers, as questions arose regarding which albums were licensed to Warner Music Group and which to UMG -- and when any such handover might take place. (The rights to Prince's soundtrack albums -- such as Batman and Purple Rain -- would remain with WMG in perpetuity, for instance, while some rights would not expire until 2021, sources say.)
But in recent days, Universal Music Group has reportedly expressed a growing displeasure with the deal, rumored to have been worth $30 million, amid claims that representatives from the estate had misrepresented what was available, and when, according to sources.