Judge Denies Prince's Heirs' Request to Reconsider Tidal Exclusive Streaming Deal

Prince, 2009
Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Prince performs on Oct. 11, 2009 at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Carver County District Court Judge Kevin Eide on Tuesday denied a request from three of Prince's heirs to reconsider a decision approving a deal between the iconic artist's estate and Tidal.

Attorneys for heirs Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson and John R. Nelson submitted the request last week that was heavily redacted to the public, but according to a response letter from the late musician's estate it requested reconsideration on a May 9 order approving a settlement agreement. The deal included exclusive streaming rights for a JAY-Z-curated album of unreleased Prince material on Tidal. With their letter, the heirs sought to get out of that deal, basing their argument around Norwegian news reports that Tidal inflated its streaming numbers -- allegations the company has denied. 

In the estate's response, attorney Lora M. Friedemann, on behalf of executor Comerica Bank and Trust, cited Minnesota general rule of practice that states "motions to reconsider are prohibited except by express permission of the court, which will be granted only upon a showing of compelling circumstances" and added such motions are only appropriate in very rare circumstances. The estate argued that motions for reconsideration should only be granted where there has been intervening legal developments or the earlier decision is "palpably wrong in some respect." Per Friedemann's response, Prince's heirs failed to raise any such issues in their request. 

"Unproven media reports do not constitute an 'intervening legal development,' or demonstrate that the Court's Order was 'palpably wrong in some respect,'" she wrote. "Moreover, the Nelsons fail to explain how unsubstantiated media reports about Tidal bear in any respect on the settlement, and they do not."

Prince and Tidal signed an exclusive streaming deal for his catalog in 2015. Following his death from an accidental overdose in April 2016, most of his Warner releases returned to all major streaming services last year. The agreement between the Prince estate and Tidal last month resolved all legal matters between the parties.

On Wednesday (June 27), Sony Music announced a new distribution deal with the Prince estate that covers 35 of the musician's previously released albums ranging from 1978-2015. The titles will be released via the Legacy Recordings imprint with worldwide rights for releases from 1995-2010 beginning immediately, worldwide rights to additional album titles from the 2014-2015 era following in the future and 12 non-soundtrack catalog albums from the 1978-1996 era in the United States starting in 2021.