Sunday, April 20, 2014

Prince Finally Settles With Warner Bros, But Why?

Remember back in 1996 when Prince famously changed his name to a weird symbol, following a protracted dispute with his record label, Warner Bros?  He wrote the word "slave" on his cheek and vowed to release his new music himself over the internet?

I'm always intrigued by the epilogues to famous events.  Well, yesterday Prince settled his 18 year dispute with Warner Bros., it was announced.  You can read more details HERE. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Prince regained the ownership of his back catalog, and Warner Bros. will soon be releasing "previously unheard material" from Prince's tenure with the label, as well as a 30th anniversary edition of "Purple Rain." 

In the end, Prince, now 55 years old, was not able to match his prior, chart-topping successes releasing his music on his own. He said in a statement yesterday that he's "pleased," and that he looks "forward to a fruitful working relationship" with Warner Bros.

Why did this happen?  And why now? Billboard provides the answer HERE. It's rooted in changes to U.S. copyright law, as it turns out, not in reconciliation and healing. "This deal marks a new era as the ability to terminate master recording copyright after 35 years was granted in the Copyright Revision Act of 1976 and became effective in 1978, the year that Prince's debut album came out... As 2013 loomed, record label executives and artists managers said that they were unsure how copyright terminations and ownership reversions would play out as they expected a precedent-setting court case to decide whether the 'work-for-hire' clause in standard recording contracts could successfully be challenged by artists."

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