Universal has announced the conclusion of a deal to release large swathes of the late pop star Prince’s massive archive of unreleased material, known as ‘The Vault’.

Announcing the deal on Thursday evening (February 9th), the Universal Music Group said that the deal gave them exclusive licensing rights to a “highly anticipated trove of unreleased works” recorded by Prince throughout his prolific career. In addition, it has acquired the rights to 25 albums that the star released through his own NPG Records imprint.

The value of the deal was not disclosed in Universal’s statement, but reports emerged back in October 2016 that the unreleased music was being offered for sale for £29 million.

PrincePrince's 'Vault' is to be finally opened

The deal is a multi-year agreement with the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson and NPG Records “with regard to Prince's vault of prized unreleased works from throughout his career, including outtakes, demos and live recordings.”

Executive vice president Michele Anthony, added it was a great honour “professionally and personally to be entrusted with these cherished recordings, including his storied 'vault' of unreleased music, and to partner with his estate and heirs to preserve and expand Prince's legacy.”

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The news comes just a few days ahead of Prince’s famous albums being made available on all streaming platforms such as Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music. Previously, his music was only available via Tidal, but on Sunday (February 12th), to coincide with a planned tribute at the Grammys, subscribers to all major services will be able access his classic hits.

Hardcore Prince fans have expressed dismay at the deal, as Prince himself was adamantly against his music being made available for free (or practically free) online, aggressively pursuing people who posted his music or performances on YouTube without permission.

However, with his estate rumoured to be facing around £80 million in taxes, the streaming deals are more a matter of necessity than ideology.

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