Prince's Estate Nearing Streaming Deals Pegged to Grammy-Night Tribute, Possibly Featuring The Weeknd, Rihanna, Bruno Mars

AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File
Prince performs during the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in a Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2004. 

Representatives for Prince’s estate are nearing a deal that could have some of the artist’s greatest hits available for streaming on major services like Spotify and Apple Music in time for the Grammy Awards, a source close to the situation confirms to Billboard. (The news was first reported on Bloomberg.)

The Grammys are planning a major tribute to Prince, for which The Weeknd, Rihanna and Bruno Mars have been discussed or approached, the source says. Prince, who won seven Grammys out of 24 nominations and appeared on the show several times, died of an accidental drug overdose on April 21 at the age of 57. 

A likely scenario would see a TV commercial air during the Grammy broadcast following the tribute, which would announce that certain songs are immediately available on Spotify, Apple Music and possibly other services. The source tells Billboard that publishers, performing rights organizations and at least one label have been alerted to an impending deal. 

Reps for Prince’s estate, Spotify, Apple Music, The Weeknd, Rihanna and Bruno Mars had not responded to Billboard’s request for comment at press time. 

Prince’s estate signed a publishing administration deal in November with Universal Music Publishing for the artist’s entire catalog, which helps clear the way for a wider streaming arrangement. A large percentage of Prince’s officially released music has been legally available for streaming exclusively through the Tidal service via a deal the artist cut in 2015, although the estate sued the company, contesting that deal, in November. 

While music from the latter half of Prince’s career is a dense thicket of one-off deals involving around 20 albums and multiple standalone singles, the overwhelming majority of his best-selling titles are with Warner Bros., which signed him at age 19 in 1977 and from which he parted acrimoniously in 1995.

He signed a new two-album deal with Warner in 2014 that sources say granted him unspecified increased rights to the catalog material; that relationship was further solidified after his death to include some of Prince’s vast vault of unreleased material. The first fruit of that relationship arrived in November with the Prince 4Ever compilation -- featuring one unreleased song, “Moonbeam Levels” -- as well as a long-promised expanded edition of the Purple Rain album, which the source says has been completed and is expected to be released by summer if not sooner. 

Billboard will have more on this news as it develops. 

2017 Grammys


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