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Universal wins publishing rights to Prince's song catalog

Hard luck, Jay Z. The Prince estate has agreed to sell the rights to the Purple One's extensive song catalog to Universal Music Publishing.
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Hard luck, Jay Z, the Prince estate has agreed to sell publishing rights to the Purple One's extensive song catalog to Universal Music Publishing.

Universal announced an agreement on Wednesday with Prince's estate that makes it, effective immediately, the "exclusive worldwide publishing administrator for Prince's entire song catalog," according to a press release.

The deal could be hugely lucrative, not only because interest in Prince's most beloved hits has been huge since his death, but also because he is believed to have left behind a veritable trove of unpublished songs at his Paisley Park studios.

"We’re humbled to be entrusted with Prince’s catalog and I’m grateful to my entire team for their work in making this agreement a reality," Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) chairman Jody Gerson said.

"With the timelessness and genius of Prince’s music, there are no limits to what we can achieve working with his estate. Prince’s popularity will only continue to grow around the world."

UMPG henceforth is "responsible for servicing and administering Prince's expansive catalog of songs" and is promising to develop "new creative outlets for his music" in coordination with his estate.

Billboard reports that Prince previously had a publishing contract with UMPG which expired in 2013, with the Purple One and his staff taking charge of managing his publishing catalog prior to his death.

Prince's estate still owns the music, with UMPG effectively buying the right to distribute it. CityPages reports that licensing rights are still being negotiated with various partners, though Prince's former label, Warner Bros., is believed to be at the top of the pecking order.

The announcement comes a week after TMZ claimed that hip-hop legend Jay Z bid $40 million for publishing rights to Prince's unreleased songs.

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