In a sign of the lingering dissent in the Prince estate even as new deals for new albums are being announced, three of the singer's siblings filed a motion in Carver County district court on Monday to overturn a contract with Jay-Z's music streaming company Tidal over exclusive rights to an album of unreleased material.
Tidal is coming off a big weekend after issuing Jay-Z's new duo album with his wife, Beyoncé, but the Prince siblings are accusing the company of fraud over prior albums.
These are the same three of the six Prince siblings, Sharon, Norrine and John Nelson, who previously tried to get Troy Carter — Lady Gaga's ex-manager and a Spotify executive — and Comerica Bank & Trust removed as the overseers of Prince's music.
Made to Carver County District Court Judge Kevin Eide by Minneapolis-based law firm Skolnick & Joyce, the filing reads, "[We] are concerned that the Court has authorized a deal for the release and exclusive streaming of the first new vault album with an entity that is accused of manipulating its own streaming data to benefit certain artists at the expense of others."
It goes on to provide links to a Norwegian newspaper that accused Tidal of inflating streaming numbers for two albums, Beyoncé's "Lemonade" and Jay-Z pal Kanye West's "Life of Pablo.".
Also mentioning Jay-Z's management company, Roc Nation, the siblings' motion added, "The estate has much to lose if it is stuck with the deal that has been authorized, especially if these allegations further tarnish Tidal and Roc Nation's reputation in the marketplace."
Representatives from Tidal and Roc Nation did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday, nor did Troy Carter's management company, Atom Factory.
Tidal did issue a statement last year disputing claims by the Norwegian newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv: "This is a smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an 'Israeli Intelligence officer' and our owner as a 'crack dealer,' " it read.
After the Prince estate previously disputed dealings with Tidal in 2016, Jay-Z famously singled out former Prince attorney Londell McMillan and other handlers in the song "Caught Their Eyes," featuring the lines: "I sat down with Prince, eye to eye / He told me his wishes before he died / Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind / They only see green from them purple eyes."
This latest motion comes after rumors that another big deal is about to be struck. Variety magazine reported Friday through unnamed sources that the estate is negotiating with Sony Music for rights to an unspecified era of the singer's catalog. That deal would likely involve the same '90s-'00s albums that were to be included in a $31 million deal with Universal Music that fell through last year.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Records is moving ahead with plans to issue "Piano and a Microphone 1983," due Sept. 21. There's a lot of time for legal motions between now and then, though.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658