prince-paris-2009-billboard-1548-650-1494513193
Getty Images

Universal Wants To Cancel Its $31 Million Agreement With Prince Estate

The issue stems from an agreement announced in February by then-estate entertainment advisors.

Universal Music Group has demanded that its $31 million deal with the Prince estate involving the late icon's recorded-music catalog be canceled and the money returned, according to court documents filed on behalf of the estate’s administrator and reviewed by Billboard.

In a partly-redacted letter sent to the Carver County District Court in Minnesota on behalf of estate administrator Comerica Bank, a representative wrote that UMG has accused former estate entertainment advisor L. Londell McMillan of fraudulent inducement in connection with the deal, and is calling for the court to rescind the agreement.

The issue stems from an agreement announced in February by then-estate entertainment advisors McMillan and Charles Koppelman between the Prince estate and UMG that would grant the major label exclusive licensing rights to Prince's post-1996 catalog released under NPG Records globally, as well as unreleased material and the U.S. rights to "certain renowned albums" from his 1979-1996 height that were released while he was under contract with Warner Bros. Records. Those latter albums were set to be licensed to UMG at a later date; a press release sent by Universal at the time said that date could arrive as early as 2018.

But UMG ran into problems as it tried to move forward on the deal and ahead of the one-year anniversary of Prince's sudden death on April 21, 2016, questions began to emerge about whether the estate’s camp had misrepresented the licensing rights it sold to the record company. While the estate agreed to give UMG the rights to some of the Warner Bros. albums as soon as 2018, for example, Warner’s rights on those albums aren’t set to expire until 2021, sources said.

The timing is key as UMG’s separate merchandise and music-publishing deals with the estate aren’t guaranteed beyond the next five years, according to sources.

McMillan denied any misrepresentation at the time, and Koppelman declined to comment; both have since been replaced by Spotify's global head of creative services Troy Carter, who said in a statement released to Billboard on April 17 that the estate would be "assessing all rights relating to Prince's recorded music."

Sources tell Billboard there is a hearing scheduled later this month regarding UMG's demand that the deal be rescinded.

The court documents were related to the potential release of a new concert film recorded in 1983 during which Prince debuted several songs from his then-upcoming epic Purple Rain, including the title track and the No. 1 Hot 100 single "Let's Go Crazy." (Sources told Billboard that the Prince estate is shopping the concert film to streaming services and other distributors including Apple Music and Spotify.) When Comerica learned of the proposed transaction involving the concert footage, the bank notified counsel to Prince's potential heirs, stressing the proposal's confidential nature.

But three of the non-excluded heirs -- Prince's half-sisters Sharon and Norrine Nelson and half-brother John Nelson -- have retained McMillan as a business advisor, and requested a non-disclosure agreement be drawn up in order to share the proposal with McMillan as well. That request prompted Comerica's letter this week, which argued that because McMillan has been accused of fraudulent inducement, the estate is now adverse to McMillan, with the UMG rescission hearing still to take place. The letter also notes that $3.1 million of the $31 million agreement was paid to McMillan and Koppelman as commission for negotiating the deal.

Prince's younger sister and five half-siblings are still waiting for a judge to make an official ruling on their heirship to the estate, said to be worth $200 million. Once a judge makes that determination, any further potential claimants would have one year to come forward and claim heirship. Dozens have done so thus far, though none successfully.

McMillan did not return a request for comment; representatives for both Carter and Universal Music Group declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Hannah Karp.

This article was originally published on Billboard.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Flint Residents Will Reportedly Have The Ability To Sue Federal Government

On Thursday (April 18), Judge Linda Parker stated Flint, Mich., residents may have the power to sue the federal government over the officials' mishandling of the water supply system. Since 2014, residents have navigated life with non-consumable water that was tainted with lead when the city switched its water source.

The news arrives days after the city was approved to receive over $77 million in funds to assist with a new pipeline, water monitoring systems, and other water-based infrastructure needs. According to CNN, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan judge's memo stated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mislead its residents when it failed to notify them of the lead-filled water.

"The impact on the health of the nearly 100,000 residents of the City of Flint remains untold. It is anticipated, however, the injury caused by the lead-contaminated public water supply system will affect the residents for years and likely generations to come," Parker said. Through campaigns spearheaded by Little Miss Flint and other activists, and initiatives conducted by artist Jaden Smith, the city's residents are steadily receiving assistance in adequate drinking water.

In January, an appeals court stated that federal civil lawsuits against the city of Flint would be permissible, The Hill notes.

Continue Reading
Jaap Arriens

An Iowa Man Faces 20 Years After Gunpoint Break-In To Own A Domain Name Ends In A Shooting

The founder of a social media company faces 20 years in prison for orchestrating the home break-in and subsequent shooting of an Internet domain owner.

According to reports, Rossi Lorathio Adams II founded a social media company "State Snaps" in 2015. The company, which operates on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, is described as containing violent, crude and often nude images of young people.

The catchphrase associated with uploaded videos is "do it for the state" and to capitalize off the growing followers, Adams, 26, tried to purchase the domain name from a Cedar Rapids resident. He couldn't make the final sale.

"Between 2015 and 2017, Adams repeatedly tried to obtain 'doitforstate.com,' but the owner of the domain would not sell it. Adams also threatened one of the domain owner's friends with gun emojis after the friend used the domain to promote concerts," court records show.

Growing tired of playing "nice," in June 2017, Adams reportedly told his cousin Sherman Hopkins Jr to break into the victim's home and force the sale. Hopkins wore pantyhose on his head, a hat and glasses to cover his eyes. He had a gun and a Taser when he broke into the home to demand the domain name.

After forcing the owner to the computer, Hopkins reportedly held the weapon to his head. "Fearing for his life, the victim quickly turned to move the gun away from his head. The victim then managed to gain control of the gun," court records show.

Hopkins was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year. Now, Adams faces a similar fate, with a 20-year maximum sentence, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervision.

Continue Reading

T.I. Bails 23 Nonviolent Offenders Out Of Jail For Easter

T.I. did a remarkable thing this Easter (April 21). In the true spirit of the holiday, T.I. bailed 23 nonviolent offenders out of the DeKalb County Jail in Georgia.

T.I., Love & Hip Hop's Scrapp Deleon, and the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga reportedly worked together to bail out seven women and 16 men who were locked up for first-time or nonviolent offenses. The deed was done as part of the church's "Bail Out" program.

"It's almost like finally meeting the good Samaritan – somebody who you don't know that you didn't see coming," senior Pastor Dr. Jamal Bryant said good deed. "They're appreciative to be able to press the refresh button."

The philanthropic work doesn't stop after the men and women are released, however. The "Bail Out" program also connects the newly-released citizens with a certified mentor for weekly check-ins. A portion of the donations received by the program will be used to establish college funds for former inmates with children.

According to Fox 5, New Birth Missionary launched the "Bail Out" program on Lent (Mar. 6). They pledged to raise $40,000 in order to bail inmates out of jail just in time for Easter Sunday. As soon as T.I. got involved, donations reportedly skyrocketed to $120,000.

We should take note of their courageous efforts.

Continue Reading

Top Stories