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Sony Music to release bulk of Prince's catalogue of music

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Sony said its Legacy Recordings imprint would immediately have rights to 19 albums from 1995 to 2010 - after Prince left long-time label Warner Brothers.

New York

SONY Music on Wednesday announced a deal with Prince's estate to re-issue the bulk of his catalogue, in the latest attempt to monetise the legacy of the pop legend.

With the latest deal, Prince's estate has made announcements with all three major record label groups since his sudden death in April 2016 - ironic for an artist who famously battled the music industry.

Sony said its Legacy Recordings imprint would immediately have rights to 19 albums from 1995 to 2010 - after Prince left long-time label Warner Brothers.

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From 2021, Sony will also obtain the rights to 12 albums from his golden era, including Controversy,1999 and Around the World in a Day. The contract notably excludes soundtracks - namely "Purple Rain", Prince's best-known work.

Richard Story, president of the Sony Music Entertainment Commercial Music Group, said in a statement: "A true artist and visionary, Prince changed the world with his music, bringing love, joy and inspiration to millions. Sony Music is honoured to play a part in keeping his music alive and making it available for generations of life-long listeners and future fans."

Prince was a fervent critic of music labels, describing corporations as putting artists into virtual slavery. When he left Warner, angered at the controls the label wanted to impose on him, he wrote "slave" on his cheek and changed his name to an unpronounceable "love symbol".

He reconciled with Warner late in his life. After his death, Warner re-issued "Purple Rain" with a second record of new music - part of a vast trove of unreleased songs believed to be stored in his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota.

Universal Music, the largest record group, last year announced a US$31 million deal to bring to the world some of the music from the trove. But months later, a judge months voided the contract at Universal's request after the label group said the estate was unclear about its rights to the vault.

Prince, ostensibly a model of health, died at 57 from an accidental overdose of powerful painkillers. He left no will and had no living children. His siblings were put in charge of keeping his estate afloat.

The estate's moves have included starting paid tours of Paisley Park and hiring Troy Carter, the manager known for his work with Lady Gaga and Spotify, to handle business decisions. He has stored Prince's tapes in a climate-controlled data storage centre, and said an album of fresh material will be out this year on Warner.

Tidal, the streaming service led by Jay-Z, has said it is preparing a release next year of previously unheard Prince music. Prince had released his final two albums on Tidal, hailing the ease and speed at which he could do so.

His estate recently put out morsels of new music, including his lighter original version of "Nothing Compares 2 U". The song, one of many he wrote for other artists, was a hit for Sinead O'Connor. AFP