In an interview given by Troy Carter, CEO of Atom Factory, the company tasked by Prince’s estate to curate the music icon’s unreleased music archive, has given details of a forthcoming album to be released by Warner Bros., September 28th.
The estate’s administrators Comercia, approached Cater to prepare the first batch of songs to be released from Prince’s Paisley Park’s vault. He admitted the task of cataloguing and reviewing the contents of the vault is daunting, chiefly to determine the condition of the archive. It was not until after Prince’s death in April 2016 could the existence of the vault be confirmed, but when it was finally opened – being protected by a keypad combination, only known Prince – the collection displayed worrying signs of water damage through poor storage.
The contents of the vault was consequently transferred to LA, to a specialist climate-controlled storage facility called Iron Mountain, where the archive is currently undergoing restoration and evaluation. Carter says he is still in the process of cataloguing the vault, remarking that it contains photos, videos, concert rehearsals and performances, in addition to hundreds of studio sessions of familiar and previously unknown recordings. In fact, everything Prince recorded, up until the early 1990s prior digitisation, has been found there. Including his demo versions of songs later rerecorded by other artists, such as Manic Monday.
It’s amazing, the things that are starting to surface.
The album to be released will concentrate on a specific time-period as yet unspecified. Noting how Prince guarded his music and paid meticulous care over its release, Carter added his wishes would be recognised. So this and future releases will be given careful consideration, not only how the songs will be compiled into albums, but that the releases are managed such they do not simply swamp the market. It’s the first release of what could be a very long process.
The formats of this currently unnamed album is to be confirmed at a later date, said Carter. Photographs when the vault was forced open in 2016 have been released online.
In another development in conjunction with the artist’s estate, Jay-Z announced that a second album containing unheard songs from the vault is to be released sometime in 2019. It will be exclusive to the TIDAL streaming service for 14 days, after which downloadable for 7 days, before receiving a physical distribution under a conventional label. The album will be comprised of songs from Prince’s post-1996 output, the period following his departure from Warner Brothers and not covered under in any arrangement since reached between Prince and that label prior to his death in 2016.
Further down the line, Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings label has been given the rights to release Prince’s post-Warner Bros catalogue, those recorded since 1996. The arrangement also includes non-album tracks and recordings of live performances, although this does not come into effect until 2021. This follows the earlier arrangement struck between the estate and Universal Music, but was withdrawn following the non-disclosure of an earlier deal that had been made between Prince and Warner Brothers shortly before his death.
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