Prince's music is coming to streaming services this Sunday

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

image copyrightAP
image captionThe star's music is currently withheld from most major streaming services

After months of rumour, it has been confirmed Prince's music will become available to stream this weekend.

Songs like Purple Rain, Kiss and Little Red Corvette, currently only available on Tidal, will appear on Sunday, ahead of the Grammy Awards.

Spotify, the world's biggest streaming platform, told the BBC that all of Prince's albums from 1978 to 1996 would be part of the deal.

The BBC understands the music will also arrive on Apple Music and Napster.

Prince was the ninth-most successful recording artist of 2016, despite his most famous recordings being withheld from those services,

Prince, one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, was both a pioneer and a sceptic when it came to putting his music online.

In 2001 he began a monthly online subscription service, the NPG Music Club, that earned him a Webby lifetime achievement award in 2006.

Organisers said the star "forever altered the landscape of online musical distribution" and "reshaped the relationship between artist and fan".

A day later, he shut the website down.

image copyrightAFP
image captionAlbums becoming available for streaming include 1999, Purple Rain and Sign O The Times

In later years, he aggressively pursued people who put unauthorised clips of his music and performances on YouTube and pulled his music from all streaming sites except Tidal.

He wasn't being capricious. Prince was a life-long advocate of artists' rights and would simply pick up his ball and go home when he felt business terms were unfavourable.

If he were alive today, it is unlikely his catalogue would be appearing on streaming services.

However, his estate potentially owes $100 million (£80 million) in taxes, making new business deals a matter of urgency.

As well as the streaming announcement, which will be made official on Sunday, Prince's team have arranged to license his unreleased recordings to Universal Music.

The company will be able to exploit his vast archives of live recordings, alternate takes and unheard songs.

They also gain the rights to the 25 albums he released after parting ways with Warner Bros in 1996, which include hits like Musicology, 3121 and Emancipation.

image copyrightAP
image captionPaisley Park - Prince's home and recording complex - contains a "vault" of unreleased recordings

Speaking to Billboard magazine, Charles Koppelman and L Londell McMillan - special advisers to Prince's estate - said they had been inundated with requests from people who wanted to honour the star's legacy.

"Whether it's a motion picture, documentaries, Broadway, Cirque du Soleil - all of those are opportunities that I think are in the future for Londell and me and the estate to work on," said Koppelman.

"Prince has amazing content beyond the music," added McMillan. "There are [filmed recordings of] the most amazing performances that we haven't even begun to discuss."

McMillan, a music industry lawyer who worked with Prince for 12 years and acted as his manager for some of that time, said he had no intent to disrespect the musician's memory.

"Some people may say. 'Why are you making all these deals? Prince wouldn't make these deals,'" he said.

"Prince never wanted to lose ownership and control of his creations, so we place ownership and control over dealmaking [in order to] preserve the assets and stay within Prince's brand values.

"As I have told everybody, there's not gonna be a big IRS truck backing up to Paisley Park saying 'I'll take those assets!'"

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