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Universal Acquires Rights to Prince’s Independent Albums, Vault of Unreleased Music

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 28: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Musician Prince performs his first of three shows onstage during "One Night... Three Venues" hosted by Prince and held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on March 28, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images for

Rumors been flying around this week about some of Prince’s catalogue being added imminently to streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, to which the singer and his estate had previously given the cold shoulder. That would presumably include albums such as 1999 and Purple Rain, which have only been available to stream on TIDAL. But now it looks like we’re one step closer to eventually being able to stream and purchase Prince’s entire discography in full.

Following its announcing of itself as the “exclusive worldwide publishing administrator” of Prince’s catalogue in November, Universal Music Group confirmed today that they have locked down a “multi-year” agreement giving them specific control over 25 albums Prince released on his independent NPG label–beginning with the 1996 triple-disc Emancipation. They will also be able to work with Prince’s estate on projects culled from the Minneapolis legend’s notorious “vault” of unreleased material (no mention of concrete plans for releases yet, however).

Prince’s estate had this to say about the deal:

“I am thrilled the NPG catalog and Prince’s highly sought after unreleased recordings will reside with UMG, where we have found a partner who is passionate about presenting Prince’s music with a holistic vision that celebrates his iconic status across recorded music, publishing and merchandise and will continue to deliver the highest quality experiences that fans have come to expect. I’m looking forward to seeing Lucian and Michele achieve great things for Prince’s fans, his estate and heirs.”

According to Billboard, UMG is also in the process of acquiring the U.S. rights to some of Prince’s most famous material–which is available on iTunes and other digital retail sites–from Warner Bros., his longtime label, who is still issuing his music.

The consolidation of the bulk of Prince’s material to companies willing to stream and reissue it hopefully means that a comprehensive digital archive for Prince’s music will eventually be available to old and potential new fans alike. Prince’s catalogue–as represented on TIDAL and iTunes–is still woefully patchy. Been waiting to hear the Crystal Ball quadruple-disc album for years, but didn’t want to shell out $175 for an import CD? Your prayers may soon be answered.