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Prince Estate Sells Nearly Half of Rights to Name and Likeness, Masters, and Publishing

New York music company Primary Wave now controls his three youngest siblings' interest in estate

prince estate sells master recordings publishing name likeness primary wave
Prince, photo by Mike Ruiz courtesy of the Prince Estate
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    Following in the footsteps of legacy artists like the Beach Boys, Prince’s estate has sold a controlling stake in the rights to the late artist’s intellectual property. As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the three youngest of Prince’s six siblings have each reached agreements with independent music publisher and talent management company Primary Wave for their inheritance in the estate.

    Last month, Primary Wave bought 100 percent of his youngest sibling Omarr Baker’s interest in the estate after previously purchasing 90 percent of Tyka Nelson’s stake and 100 percent of the late Alfred Jackson’s inheritance. Per Rolling Stone, this intellectual property includes Prince’s name and likeness, royalties from his masters, and publishing rights, as well as his renowned Paisley Park studios.

    Prince’s oldest three siblings — Sharon, Norrine, and John Nelson — do not currently have plans to give up their own stakes in the rights to his estate. “There’s not much anyone can do about family members who sell out for the dollar. That’s their right,” said the aforementioned siblings’ lawyer L. Londell McMillan to the Star Tribune.

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    Sorting out Prince’s estate in the wake of his 2016 passing from an accidental fentanyl overdose has been complicated by the absence of a will. Because the Purple One had no wife or children, his five half-siblings and full sister, Tyka, have been left to resolve outstanding tax issues with the IRS and state of Minnesota.

    Once the tax bill has been settled, Prince’s oldest three siblings will share the estate with Primary Wave. While speaking to The Wall Street Journal, McMillan laid out plans to bring Prince’s music to new audiences. “No matter what, we are going to fight to preserve the legacy of Prince,” he said. “We would like to bring the purple back and actually do things the way Prince did.”

    “All future decisions of the Prince Estate will be determined and need the approval and direction of our group, family, and friends of Prince who actually worked with him,” McMillan added. “We will work with Primary Wave and any other party that holds interest in the estate.”

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    In February, the Beach Boys made a similar deal with Iconic Artists Group, selling a controlling interest in their master recordings, a share of their publishing rights, memorabilia, and the members’ likenesses. Other legacy artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Stevie Nicks have all sold the rights to their lucrative song catalogs in the past year.

    Prince’s estate signed a deal with Sony Music in 2018, allowing the second half of the musician’s catalog to hit streaming services. On Friday, his shelved 2010 album, Welcome 2 America, was unearthed from the Paisley Park vault.

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