Prince: Has the unsettling precedent of being the first deceased artist to have both officially released creations and legacy being juggled by multiple Trans-National Corporations.

This may not be new “news” to some, but was to me.  I will try my best to balance out this blog dedicated to Prince’s vinyl works, and those vinyl works of  Prince affiliates, and new release information, especially and first and foremost vinyl information. Wanting to see what was in store for this year as there were a few new releases, and in one instance an E.P titled “Deliverance” which was eventually never released as the courts decided the engineer/overseer of the project broke his obligations in the contract he signed with Prince. I”ve also been curious as to who has what in terms of rights to certain material, and equally important to me what will be done with all of the self distributed material physical and digital during the NPG Music Club Era?

In my very first blog entry I touch on a few problems that are going to be almost impossible to avoid, since for some bizarre reason Warner Bros isn’t the sole owner of his official studio releases.  Since his death (in my personal opinion) it has seemed like there was never anything unanimously agreed on by family, former bandmates, ex’s, people connected in some way shape or form to profit from the estate in some way shape or form.   Actually I take that back, Prince being projected on a sheet during Justin Timberlake’s half – time  Super Bowl performance, or as a hologram, or any other various ways was the only time I saw everyone on board.  He had made it clear in many interviews that he didn’t believe in posthumous holograms etc. of someone or any performer, particularly him.  When once asked by an interviewer “Wouldn’t you have like to play with Duke Ellington” ? His response was “If we were meant to have played together, we would have been born in the same time period”. I’m digressing a bit.

Wanting to make sure I stay on top of things news wise, as well as release wise I discovered that “Legacy Records” is merely a subsidiary acquired along with a number of other subsidiaries since 1990. In short terms basically on paper it looks like it is a record label, and may even have a name, but at the point in time we are today, it is most likely a subsidiary or boutique label with a specific purpose, connected to a global giant such as Warner Bros, Sony, etc. Thus, this lead me to understand the who, what, where, when, why? Of how future albums will be released, and who will be releasing them.

A quick google search will lead you to info about them and apparently they (one of the trans national corporations) are running an “official estate site” dedicated to Prince. Outside of the Warner Bros. period, and any one off deals Prince negotiated himself later in his career for promotional and distributional only, I don’t recall him having a business relationship with Sony. I also don’t recall when or how Sony managed to snag official rights to not only his post Warner Bros period, but more distasteful to me, (Possibly others as well) all the albums Prince self released through NPG music club, whether in physical form, and/or digital form,  now seem to be owned by the subsidiary “Legacy Records” which is at the end of the day (Paper/Money trail) owned by Sony.

It’s no surprise to anyone that his official studio releases have been re-released, but I don’t imagine those from the NPG music club period, or those that have seen enough interviews would think that Prince would be happy at all that his totally independently created and self distributed releases will now be in the hands of one of a few media conglomerate/trans national corporations. I don’t know, or can find any other example of a musical act, performer, etc.  past or present where literally their legacy as well as music has, or is being handled by multiple corporate entities. Outside of Prince’s own wishes, I think having his output as well as legacy being controlled by multiple parties where the only concern is “what will make us the most money” and not what is the proper balance between respecting a legacy while re-releasing official material, and equally important how to handle unreleased material that may be unfinished or things he didn’t deem fit to release for whatever reason while he was here.

In closing, to the vinyl collectors, the Prince fans, be very discriminating in what you may purchase, and who benefits from it, the origins of the product and read the fine print.  As of now there is vinyl being sold “officially” that thematically, or even time period that have absolutely nothing to do with “Purple Rain”, yet there are a few vinyl albums for sale post 2002 that have been released as purple discs. Example, does anyone recall the “Planet Earth” album or “Musicology”? Both are being sold in vinyl form but with a purple color.  While the average consumer may think this may be a great piece of memorabilia, or collectible vinyl, it is only being promoted as a vinyl release. Not limited, literally no other distinguishing things or different than what has already been released officially, other than they thought it would be a “great selling point” to make the vinyl the very same purple that is actually used for true collectable purple discs that coincided with the album “Purple Rain”.

“Purple Rain” wasn’t the only project Prince had different color vinyl issued at times, but it was definitely the exception and not the rule as far as picture discs, or colored vinyl. Off the top of my head Peach was a color used during the “Sign of the times” period but is the only I’m aware of officially released as limited in some way, or are true collectors piece numbered or not.