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Who will own Prince's massive vault of unreleased music?

Prince fans mourning the legendary recording artist's passing may have something to celebrate in coming years.

The pop icon is widely believed to have thousands of songs stored in his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota. But with no spouse or children, it remains to be seen who will control his estate — and whether that person will release the tracks Prince famously socked away.

The artist, who died Thursday at age 57, became synonymous with fiercely defending artists' rights to own their music. During a dispute with Warner Bros. in the 1990s, he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and scrawled the word "slave" on his face in public appearances.

The dispute was due in part to Prince's frustration with Warner's insistence that he release only one album every two to three years, said John Sykes, MTV co-founder and iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprise.


"He just was prolific. He wanted to make music," Sykes, who knew Prince personally, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

"He just stayed up all night long recording music."

Prince released 39 studio albums over the course of 35 years, but it remains to be seen how his music empire will rank among those of other industry titans because so much of his library has yet to be released, Sykes said.

"He has just a plethora of music that we don't even know about yet, that he owns the copyright to, he owns the masters right," he said.

Sykes said he believes the world will get to hear those recordings and that Prince would have wanted them released. Prince also likely has "tens" of music videos in the vault, as well, he said.

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