The music catalogue of Prince has always been a contentious issue, and now it’s in the midst of another lawsuit.
Prince’s estate (through his label PNG Records) is suing Jay-Z’s Roc Nation for illegally streaming his music on Tidal. The lawsuit states that before Prince died, he gave Tidal the rights to stream his newest albums, Hit N Run: Phase 1 and Phase Two. Tidal was given a 90-day streaming exclusivity with those final albums. Not soon after, the streaming program added almost all of Prince’s albums, becoming the only place where people could stream Prince’s catalogue. His estate now alleges Tidal is “exploiting many copyrighted Prince works” without received any permissions to do so.
Roc Nation filed a petition in a Minnesota court that there was an “agreed-upon arrangement” between the labels of Prince and Jay-Z over the digital rights to the late singer’s catalogue. Complicating matters is Universal Music made a deal with Prince’s estate to exclusively distribute his music, including any unreleased material.
Tidal would lose out big time if Universal were to make Prince’s music available to other streaming services.