The world was in shock Thursday when it was announced that international musical superstar Prince died at his Paisley Park Estate in Minnesota.
Prince was battling the flu in the weeks leading up to his death, and had shifted around a few concerts because of health concerns. He was found unresponsive in an elevator, where he was later confirmed dead.
Throughout his career, Prince sold over 100 million records, earned 30 Grammy nominations, won 7 Grammy awards, was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2014; as well as countless other awards and achievements.
Let's take a quick look at the business of Prince.
Prince was a firm proponent of artists controlling how labels make and profit off their music. In August 2015, when speaking to a group of reporters from the National Association of Black Journalists, he compared the relationship between labels and artists as indentured servitude, saying:
“Record labels are just like — I’m gonna say the word — slavery. I would tell any young artist ... don’t sign.”
Prince was famously involved in a legal battle with his former label, Warner Bros., over the artistic and financial control of his music. It was during this time that he changed his name to a symbol and was referred to as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. His first record label, Paisley Park Records, was distributed and funded by Warner Bros., which cut ties with Paisley Park after the legal dispute.
Prince eventually went on to found NPG Records. He used the record label to distribute his music.
In 2014, Prince launched NPGMusicPublishing.com - a Prince website launched in April 2014 to serve as his new publishing company, NPG Public Publishing. Prince's last publishing deal was with Universal Music, before leaving the company several years ago. He had been inked to Kobalt Music for a label services deal but chose to release his latest single through L.A. Reid's Epic label.
Reportedly, NPG marked the first time Prince’s publishing had been independently controlled and administered in more than 20 years.
At the time of his passing, Prince had a memoir tentatively titled "The Beautiful Ones" scheduled for a Fall 2017 release by publisher Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House.
So what happens next? That's not precisely clear. Prince did have a collaborator for the book, but to what extent they'd be teaming up —and whether that partner will go forward — isn't clear either.
For his memoirs, Prince had said he would be working with his brother Dan.
"Prince is a towering figure in global culture and his music has been the soundtrack for untold numbers of people — including me — for more than a generation," said Chris Jackson, executive editor at Spiegel & Grau, in announcing the memoir. "Millions of words have been written about Prince — books and articles, essays and criticism — but we're thrilled to be publishing Prince's powerful reflections on his own life in his own incandescently vivid, witty, and poetic voice."
Will the world ever learn what, precisely, Prince had to say in those reflections? It will just have to wait and see.
According to TMZ, Prince had roughly 50 pages of his memoir completed at the time of his death. Prince was represented by Esther Newberg and Dan Kirschen at ICM Partners on the book deal.
According to Minnesota law, in the absence of a will, the estate goes to the following people in this order: closest siblings, spouse, children, grandchildren and then parents. However, Prince’s parents have been dead for more than a decade. He did have six siblings from the same father, but it's unclear how close he was with the ones still alive (at least two have died).
The legendary and reclusive performer was married and divorced at least twice. He reportedly had one child — a son — who died one week after being born due to a genetic cranial ailment known as Pfeiffer syndrome.
One thing is certain: Prince and his estate are worth a lot of money. Approximately $300 million, according to the Celebrity Net Worth website. That figure could grow exponentially if his any of his unreleased music sees the light of day. If history is any indication when a legendary musical performer dies, there is sure to be a legal battle over all of the above.
Prince proved to be a shrewd businessman, a fact that still rang true recently when he signed an exclusive — and likely very lucrative — deal with music streaming service Tidal, which effectively removed his music from every other music streaming website. The details of that deal were not made public.
In an article published regarding tax battle Michael Jackson's estate is currently facing with the IRS, Hollywood Reporter gives the following tip:
CHECK IN WITH THE BRAND DOCTOR: The IRS has an opening in the Jackson dispute because there’s room for disagreement about the value of the singer’s name/likeness at the time of death. Had his appraiser made the $2,105 valuation before death, that likely would be the best evidence. Regular appraisals could be one strategy.
It goes without saying that Prince experienced a full life, and a wildly successful career. As an amazing producer, artist and songwriter, he built an international fanbase and amassed an impressive fortune along the way. All too often, when celebrities pass, we are shocked to learn the actual state of their financial affairs. It seems this is not the case with Prince. It will be interesting to see, over time, how is estate is handled - and who inherits his fortune.
Prince was 57 when he passed. At the time of this article, the cause of his death is unknown.