In the wake of the sudden passing of Prince last year, there has been an overwhelming demand for the legendary music icon’s body of work to be made available on music streaming services. As of February 12, many fans got their wish. Warner Bros, who owns the rights to much of the late musician’s work, including renowned albums 1999, Purple Rain, and Dirty Mind, has reached an agreement with Prince’s estate to allow all his music (released prior to his 1996 split with Warner Bros) to be made available on music streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. The February 12 release date coincided with the Grammy Awards, which honored Prince with a tribute performance by The Time and Bruno Mars.
Warner Bros has also announced that, on June 9th, they will release a remastered version of Purple Rain, as well as two previously unreleased Prince albums and two concert films from Prince’s personal vault at his Paisley Park recording complex.
Prince did once have his music available for streaming on some digital platforms, but, with the exception of Jay Z’s Tidal (which gives artists a larger share of profits) took his music down in 2015. An advocate for artist rights, Prince split with his long-time record label, Warner Bros, in 1996 because, as a prolific songwriter, Prince wanted to release new music as soon as it was ready, but Warner Bros refused his request. This dispute and eventual split was what prompted the singer’s infamous name change to the un-pronounceable emblem combining the astrologically inspired Mars-male and Venus-female symbols. In a press release at that time, Prince wrote: “Warner Bros took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music I wrote…The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros.”
Once the Warner Bros contract expired in the year 2000, Prince went back to using his name, creating his own record label and innovating new ways for fans to access his work, becoming one of the first artists to sell their albums online.