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Prince estate confirms deal with Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights

By | Published on Thursday 12 January 2017


The Prince estate has appointed Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights to represent the performing rights in the late musician’s songs catalogue.

Universal Music Publishing has already been appointed by reps of the Prince estate to administrate the popstar’s songs repertoire, but GMR will lead on licensing the performing right elements of his work to broadcasters, digital services and such like, which is to say in those areas where collective licensing is the norm in the US.

Azoff launched GMR in 2014, of course, with the plan of representing a small but esteemed roster of songwriters in the performing rights domain, in a bid to secure said acts better rates when their songs are exploited on air or online.

Unlike the big two performing rights organisations in the US – BMI and ASCAP – GMR is not subject to the consent decree collective licensing rules or the whims of the rate court in setting what royalties it should receive. Though the ability of Azoff’s rights agency to negotiate with licensees without the intervention of a third party mediator should be tested later this year in a big legal battle with the American radio industry.

Having the Prince oeuvre on its books will further help GMR demand preferential rates from licensees, assuming the radio sector doesn’t force limitations on the agency’s negotiating power through competition law. And that includes in the streaming domain, where the Prince estate is seemingly keen to get the musician’s music back online across the board, ending Tidal’s exclusivity deal (or non-deal, as the case may be).

Former ASCAP member Prince had apparently already been in talks with GMR before his death, and a deal was done with the estate last year but was only announced this week. That announcement came shortly after Universal’s Bravado was confirmed as merchandise partner for the Prince estate, and alongside those moves to get the musician’s music back on the streaming services ahead of a tribute set at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Confirming the arrangement and alluding to the plans to get the Prince catalogue live in more places, GMR boss Randy Grimmett was quoted by Bloomberg as saying yesterday: “This is one of the most pre-eminent music catalogues ever created. Fans will soon have it accessible to them in all the ways consumers like to hear music”.

Elsewhere in Prince news, a court will later today consider who should administrate his estate long-term, with the current overseers the Bremer Trust always intended as interim administrators. Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson put forward two contenders for the role, and it’s thought her second choice, Michigan-based Comerica Bank, is favoured by some of his other siblings.