May 16, 2016

Who Owns Prince's Music?

This article was originally published on GenFKD

After Prince’s untimely passing, there’s been a remarkable bump in his music sales – 230,000 albums and one million singles were sold in one day – and frustration over the fact that his music can’t be found on music streaming services. It’s left a lot of people wondering who owns Prince’s music and what will happen to his catalog now.

While we can’t answer that question for sure, we can take a look at the behind-the-scenes of music rights to understand who might have the power to decide whether or not the public gets to hear Prince’s unreleased catalog.

Copyright 101
Before you can understand who owns, controls access to, and stands to profit from Prince’s music, you need to know a little bit about how copyrights work.

A copyright is a legal right to a creative work that gives the copyright owner the right to control how that work is used. In the United States, it gives the copyright holder the exclusive right — or ability to grant others the right — to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, display, and create derivate works based on that work. When we ask who “owns” the rights to music, we’re talking about the person or company that has these rights.