A Minnesota judge ruled Thursday to officially rescind a large portion of Universal Music Group’s $31 million deal with the Prince estate after it was revealed that the agreement would not include the distribution rights to the late singer’s pre-1996 catalog.
Judge Kevin W. Eide’s decision came after both Universal and the Prince estate’s current administrator Comerica Bank – the deal was negotiated under the guidance of previous administrator Bremer Trust and former adviser L. Londell McMillan – asked the court to nullify the February agreement.
“Universal Music Group and the estate of Prince Rogers Nelson welcome the court’s approval of our amicable resolution to this matter,” Universal said following the judge’s decision. “We look forward to continuing to work closely together on Prince’s music publishing and merchandise to ensure that we deliver the very best experiences to Prince’s fans around the world.”
The Prince estate hired Troy Carter to replace McMillan – a Jay-Z foe – as entertainment advisor in April after it was discovered that McMillan was less than forthcoming concerning the status of Prince’s catalog: After Universal struck the deal with the estate, the label learned that Warner Bros. owned the rights to Prince’s catalog spanning 1979 to 1995 until 2021, and not 2018 as Universal was led to believe.
“There was no wrongdoing on our end. We stand by our work,” L. Londell McMillan said in a statement (via the New York Times).
In asking to rescind the Universal contract, Comerica Bank previously admitted that Bremer and McMillan “sold rights to [Universal] that [Warner Bros.] already holds” and that they could “cannot unequivocally assure [Universal] or the court that no overlap exists.”