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Prince's 'Deliverance' EP blocked, single still for sale as indie label battles musician’s estate

While a planned release of a posthumous EP made up of archived tracks from Prince was blocked by a judge, the independent label behind the project is still selling one of the songs.

“The Federal Court located in Minnesota has temporarily enjoined the release of the remaining unreleased tracks on the ‘Deliverance’ EP. The court order has not enjoined the released single ‘Deliverance.’ Therefore the ‘Deliverance’ single will continue to be sold,” attorney Matthew Wilson said in a statement on behalf of Rogue Music Alliance, the independent label based in Vancouver, Wash., that is behind the release.

Earlier this week RMA touted the arrival of the EP featuring six songs of previously unheard material.

The collection was recorded between 2006 and 2008 with producer and songwriter Ian Boxill. Its title track, a bluesy gospel-inflected groove, was already available on streaming services including Apple Music, and the EP had been made available for pre-order on iTunes. Press materials for the project promised that “the majority” of all sales would benefit the late musician’s estate.

After the musician’s tragic death last year, Boxill continued to work on the music and arranged for it be released on RMA. The label announced the EP would be released Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death (he died of a fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota).

Prince’s estate immediately sued Boxill, claiming he was unauthorized to release the music. A federal judge in Minnesota sided with the estate, arguing the release of the EP violated a contract Boxill entered into that gave the late musician sole ownership of any music recorded with the producer.

The ruling that the producer “shall not publish or otherwise disseminate any unreleased recordings that comprise the work of Prince Rogers Nelson that are alleged to be within the scope of the Confidentiality Agreement between Boxill and Paisley Park Enterprises” meant he needed to deliver all recordings, both digital and analog, to the estate.

Since the title track was commercially released before the ruling, it is still available for purchase — just don’t expect to find it on any streaming platforms.

The track can be heard through Soundcloud, but paid downloads of the track are only available through a newly launched site the label rolled out to tout its release (and promote the controversy).

“Prince once told me that he would go to bed every night thinking of ways to bypass major labels and get his music directly to the public,” Boxill said in the statement. “When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent because that’s what Prince would have wanted.”

Boxill wasn’t available to comment because of the ongoing legalities of the music, according to a representative for RMA, and the estate didn’t return a request for comment but did issue this statement:

“The Estate has not authorized any such release and is not affiliated with either Mr. Boxill or Rogue Music Alliance. During his unparalleled career, Prince worked with many sound engineers, including Mr. Boxill.

Like the other engineers that had the opportunity to work with Prince, Mr. Boxill signed an agreement, under which he agreed (1) all recordings that he worked on with Prince would remain Prince’s sole and exclusive property; (2) he would not use any recordings or property in any way whatsoever; and (3) he would return any such recordings or property to Prince immediately upon request. Mr. Boxill did not comply with his agreement.

Instead, Mr. Boxill maintained copies of certain tracks, waited until after Prince’s tragic death, and is now attempting to release tracks without the authorization of the Estate and in violation of the agreement and applicable law.

The Estate is taking immediate legal actions to prevent Mr. Boxill’s continuing violations of his agreement and the rights of the Estate and its partners in Prince’s recordings. Any dissemination of the recordings and underlying music compositions, or fixation of the same in any audiovisual work or otherwise, is unauthorized and in violation of the Estate’s rights to the master recordings and musical compositions.”

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gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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