The Prince and the P.O.’d: The Story Continues

What is good, folks? As the holiday season wraps up, so does the hiatus from this site! Weekly posts are back, refocused on things at least quasi related to publishing, and are now 100% biodegradable! We are informative, we do not eat meat, and we binge watch videos on knitting! Grab your mom, dad, and who ever else is conveniently located and run for the window; The View from 214 is back!

Think back to 1-2 months ago when things were starting to heat up with the Prince Estate. As a brief recap:

  • Prince died in 2016, leaving his estate in charge of what happens to his music.
  • Before he died, Prince signed a deal with Tidal and Roc Nation, allowing them special privilege to his catalog.
  • On Prince’s birthday, Tidal releases his whole catalog for streaming without paying the $750K fee, thus angering the Prince Estate.
  • Tidal and Roc Nation traded a lawsuit and capacity argument with the estate and NPG Records to receive a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Ladies, gentlemen, and gender nonconformists, Tidal has finally issued a response. Like any rodent that has been backed into a corner, Tidal and Roc Nation have begun to bite. They say that NPG and the estate should have expected the parent company Aspiro to bring the late singer’s work into the public as they had promised and that Aspiro acted as they promised they would.

Of course, the Prince Estate still stands by their POV that they did want the music to be brought forth, just not in the way that it was and that Tidal’s argument is utter malarkey. 

In addition, Tidal and Roc Nation have a very realistic fear that the estate may strike up other streaming deals, Amazon, Apple Music, and Spotify coming to mind. So, in the initial statement, they are reported as voicing that such a deal would be a “violation of its own rights.” 

As for my take on the situation, I have to question Tidal and Roc Nation’s actions. Their lawsuit was filed first, which rubs off as their knowing this would agitate the estate (point for rhyming). And if you know you’re going to make the catalog holder mad, you should know you risk losing the catalog. Losing a catalog is bad in general for any label or group. But when you throw in the fact that the catalog belongs to an artist as legendary as Prince, that is some deep crap you’ve wiggled yourself into. As much as Tidal thought it was a great move to release the whole thing to the public on its own terms, I have a feeling this is going to lead them down a road to hurt.

However, I do think that this case and these arguments needed to happen. You know how old our copyright law is? 41 years old. It is not living and no longer reflects the technologies of today. For Pete’s sake, streaming is changing the industry and the current law has no effective way of handling it. Now I’m confident that this sucks for Prince’s Estate to deal with, but if it hadn’t been Prince, it would have had to be another legendary artist to get this ball rolling.

It is still unsure which side federal judges are going to take, so the future is anyone’s guess. But I can promise you that we will be seeing definition of copyright law, hopefully redefinition following. It will be brought into question and we will be forced to deal with it on a large scale, which is what we need in our evolving music markets. The current law is flawed (point for rhyming) and now is the time to deal with it.

If you’d like to read the article that inspired all this, click here.

Once again, this has been the view from 214.

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