Music & Musicians

Sony inks deal with Prince estate to distribute massive music catalog

Anthony Noto 
Musician Prince performs onstage at the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, March 19, 2005.
Getty Images

The late musician Prince was notorious for having tight-knit control over his catalog of work. So when Sony Music Entertainment reached a deal with his estate, it was bound to grab headlines.

The Japanese-owned global music conglomerate (NYSE: SNE) announced Wednesday that it inked "an exclusive distribution agreement" that covers 35 previously released album titles owned by the estate of Prince Rogers Nelson.

Troy Carter, who advises the estate, issued a statement on the agreement:

The Sony team's enthusiasm and deep knowledge of Prince's music make them the ideal partner to release these iconic bodies of work. We're looking forward to working with the heirs and Sony on giving fans what they've been waiting for – more great music from Prince.

The Prince catalog will be distributed by Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony.

Among the album titles included in the deal are The Gold Experience (1995), Emancipation (1996), Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic (1999), The Rainbow Children (2001), 3121 (2006), Musicology (2004) and Planet Earth (2007).

It doesn't end there. By 2021, the agreement allows Sony to distribute a dozen Prince non-soundtrack catalog albums produced by the artist between 1978 and 1996.

According to the prepared statement, those albums include the self-titled Prince (1979), Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), 1999 (1982), Around The World In A Day (1985), Sign 'O' The Times (1987), Lovesexy (1988), Diamonds and Pearls (1991) and [Love Symbol] (1992) as well as hit singles "1999," "Little Red Corvette," "I Wanna Be Your Lover," "Raspberry Beret" and much more.

Sony Music president Richard Story praised the deal, adding that he was "honored" to play a part in making Prince's work available for generations of listeners and "future fans."

It remains to be seen who will gain access to Prince's vault of unreleased work. The singer's death on April 21, 2016 was unexpected and he left no will. Per Consequence of Sound, his estate had no way of accessing the vault as only Prince knew the door’s key code.

After drilling it open, the estate’s archivist discovered enough unreleased music to release a new album every year for the next century.

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