Label-related ups and downs are part of many major artists’ careers, but Prince is an outlier when it comes to record company drama. Two decades ago, he split with Warner Bros. in highly acrimonious fashion, quickly releasing a series of artistically uneven albums to fulfill his contractual obligations. After a series of experiments that have included albums with Arista, Columbia, and his own NPG Music label, Prince is now returning to Warner Bros., promising all-new music, the unearthing of never-heard recordings, and a reissue of his defining classic Purple Rain (1984).
In a press release, Warner Bros. describes its new deal with Prince as “an exclusive global licensing partnership that covers every album released from 1978 into the nineties.” A detail that’s likely crucial for the artist is that he’ll take ownership of the master recordings of his previous Warner Bros. releases, giving him more control over how that music will be used and released in the future.
The press release further promises “a brand-new studio album”—likely to be the new release with his band 3RDEYEGIRL, Plectrum Electrum—and “the release of long-awaited, previously unheard material.” Additionally, there will be a “deluxe,” digitally re-mastered reissue of Purple Rain to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the album and film that made First Avenue a mecca for music fans around the world.