Doc­u­ments: Jay Z's com­pany wanted to man­age Prince's mu­sic

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Roc Na­tion, the en­ter­tain­ment com­pany founded by rap mogul Jay Z, tried but failed to get cho­sen to man­age Prince's mu­si­cal as­sets in the weeks af­ter the rock su­per­star's death, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments re­leased Tues­day. The doc­u­ments stem from a dis­pute be­tween Prince's record com­pany and Jay Z's mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice Ti­dal, which is play­ing out in both state and fed­eral court in Min­nesota. The trust com­pany over­see­ing Prince's es­tate says the dis­pute be­longs only in fed­eral court, where PRN Records is su­ing Roc Na­tion for copy­right in­fringe­ment for mak­ing a large part of Prince's cat­a­log avail­able to its sub­scribers. A closed hear­ing is set for Thurs­day in Carver County pro­bate court.

Af­ter Prince Rogers Nel­son died of an ac­ci­den­tal painkiller over­dose in April, the court ap­pointed Bre­mer Trust to run his es­tate. The com­pany then so­licited re­quests for pro­pos­als for man­ag­ing his mu­sic to gen­er­ate cash. The doc­u­ments show Roc Na­tion, founded in 2008 by Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, sub­mit­ted a pro­posal in May. That pro­posal, marked "Pro­pri­etary and Con­fi­den­tial," pitched Roc Na­tion as an "artists first" en­deavor that would pro­tect his artis­tic vi­sion. It noted that Prince had al­ready given Ti­dal rights to stream some of his re­cent work.

Prince stu­dio al­bum

"Mr Nel­son spoke openly with Mr Carter about the fu­ture of his mu­sic, and the fu­ture of the mu­sic in­dus­try over­all," said the let­ter, signed by Roc Na­tion CEO Jay Brown. "Mr Nel­son's point of view on art, pro­tect­ing rights and ad­vo­cat­ing for so­cial good were di­rectly aligned with those of Mr Carter. He con­fided in and en­trusted Mr Carter and Roc Na­tion with his most prized pos­ses­sion, his cre­ative ex­pres­sion." How­ever, Bre­mer Trust in June in­stead chose L Lon­dell McMil­lan, Prince's long­time at­tor­ney, man­ager and friend, and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive Charles Kop­pel­man to man­age Prince's mu­sic.

Since then, a dis­pute has been brew­ing be­tween the two sides over how Ti­dal is stream­ing Prince's mu­sic. Bre­mer Trust ac­knowl­edged that an Aug 1, 2015, agree­ment, which re­mains sealed, gave Ti­dal the right to stream a new Prince stu­dio al­bum, "Hit n Run Phase One." How­ever, the trust com­pany al­leges in court fil­ings, Ti­dal in June be­gan stream­ing many Prince al­bums with­out per­mis­sion. Ac­cord­ing to an Oc­to­ber let­ter to the judge by Roc Na­tion at­tor­ney Rod­ney Ma­son, Prince and NPG "granted Roc Na­tion the ex­clu­sive rights to stream the Artist's vast and his­toric cat­a­logue of master record­ings and mu­si­cal com­po­si­tions ex­clu­sively on the TI­DAL ser­vice. It was no se­cret that the Artist did not like com­pet­ing stream­ing ser­vices and was pub­licly vo­cal in sup­port of grant­ing ex­clu­sive rights to TI­DAL ... and there are many doc­u­ments which sup­port the par­ties' agree­ment to the same."

Bre­mer Trust dis­putes that. In a brief dated Mon­day, at­tor­ney Kather­ine Mo­erke wrote that the only agree­ment it knows of be­tween Prince or his com­pa­nies with Roc Na­tion or any of its af­fil­i­ates cov­ered only "Hit n Run Phase One." Roc Na­tion has failed to pro­duce any other agree­ments de­spite sev­eral re­quests and a subpoena, she wrote. Roc Na­tion also has not re­sponded to a re­quest for an ac­count­ing of any pay­ments, she wrote, suggest­ing that it still owes the es­tate roy­al­ties. Mo­erke and Ma­son did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to phone calls seek­ing com­ment Tues­day. Roc Na­tion has not for­mally re­sponded to the copy­right law­suit, which NPG filed last month.

— AP pho­tos

In this Feb 4, 2007 file photo, Prince per­forms dur­ing half­time of the Su­per Bowl XLI foot­ball game in Mi­ami.

In this file photo, Jay Z per­forms dur­ing a cam­paign rally for Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton in Cleve­land.

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