Universal wins access to Prince's music vault

Expect a flood of unreleased songs from The Purple One to hit the market...

Universal wins access to Prince's music vault

Picture by CHRIS O'MEARA AP/Press Association Images

Universal Music has won the race to buy Prince's extensive private archive.

The world's biggest record label says it now has exclusive rights to the late artist's "highly anticipated trove of unreleased works".

It has also acquired the 25 albums Prince released through his own NPG Records label, amounting to his post-1995 back catalogue. Universal US will also get rights to certain albums from before that time in 2018.

While the value of the deal has not been disclosed, it was reported last year that Universal was locked in a $35 million battle with Sony and Warner for the material.

Fans can expect outtakes, demos and live recordings to hit the market in the near future.

Much was made of Prince's prodigious work rate during his life, with hundreds of fully-formed songs thought to be stored in the basement of his Paisley Park home.

Universal's executive vice president Michele Anthony said in a statement:

"Prince is a music icon and his impact on culture will continue to reverberate across the world for generations to come. Having worked with Prince on-and-off for 20 years, I was fortunate to experience his incomparable passion, creativity and pursuit of perfection.

"It’s an honour professionally and personally to be entrusted with these cherished recordings, including his storied ‘vault’ of unreleased music, and to partner with his estate and heirs to preserve and expand Prince’s legacy."

Prince in 1985. Picture by Liu Heung Shing AP/Press Association Images 

In other news related to the Purple Rain star, reports surfaced yesterday that his music is set to return to online streaming services.

The Minneapolis legend was one of the most outspoken critics of the impact the internet has had on music and copyright when he was alive, but the likes of 'When Doves Cry' and 'Raspberry Beret' could soon be available on the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon once again.

FT reported that the comeback is planned to coincide with this Sunday's Grammy Awards.

The major music industry event will feature a tribute to The Purple One, who passed away in April 2016, as well as George Michael, who died on Christmas day. John Legend is already confirmed to perform the 'In Memoriam' segment. 

Prince first pulled his music from the sites in July 2015, with a message appearing on Spotify announcing that Prince's publisher had "asked all streaming services to remove his catalogue".

Spotify has declined to comment on a Prince return to the service, though it has put up blank purple billboards on streets and posters on the walls of subway stations in New York...