A U.S. District Court judge has blocked, for now, the release of an upcoming EP of previously unheard music from Prince, which was to be released by a Vancouver-based record label, after the late pop superstar’s estate and studio sued the producer who mixed the tracks.
George Ian Boxill, a collaborator and sound engineer who worked with Prince, announced Tuesday he intended to release several songs the two worked on together.
He had been refining the music since Prince’s death, and the EP was to be released through Vancouver-based RMA, or Rogue Music Alliance.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright on Wednesday granted a motion from Prince’s estate and label, Paisley Park Enterprises, stopping the music’s release.
Boxill and RMA planned to release the EP, titled “Deliverance,” Friday, on the first anniversary of Prince’s death.
RMA, in a Wednesday news release, said Boxill and Prince recorded the tracks on the EP between 2006 and 2008.
“I believe ‘Deliverance’ is a timely release with everything going on in the world today, and in light of the one-year anniversary of his passing. I hope when people hear Prince singing these songs it will bring comfort to many,” Boxill said in RMA’s news release. “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. When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent because that’s what Prince would have wanted.”
On its website, RMA describes itself as “a collection of pirates, hackers, artists, and bohemian resistance fighters,” and lists Gabriel Wilson and David Staley as leads.
The label says it wants to provide label-like services for artists while allowing artists greater control of their work and profits.
According to his website, Wilson is a Portland-area music producer, songwriter, recording artist and worship leader. He’s also a co-owner and operator of Feng Sway Studio in Vancouver.
According to his Facebook profile, Staley lives in Nashville, Tenn.
Neither could be reached for comment, nor could anyone with RMA. Another co-owner at Feng Sway Studio declined to comment. The marketing agency representing RMA declined to comment further.
Prince’s label and estate first filed suit against Boxill last week in Carver County, Minn., but moved the case Tuesday to federal court in St. Paul, the Star-Tribune reported.
The plaintiffs in the case contend Boxill has no legal rights to the music, and by releasing it, he’d be violating a confidentiality agreement he signed in 2004.
The Star-Tribune reported the federal lawsuit lists the value of the recordings at $75,000. The suit also says Prince sings and plays guitar and keyboards on the songs, which Boxill worked on at Paisley Park, the late musician’s record label and studio-home compound outside of Minneapolis.
RMA said in its news release the majority of the EP’s sales would go to Prince’s estate.
The case is ongoing. According to the Star-Tribune, Prince’s estate now will have to submit a memorandum in support of the order. Then, Boxill will have until April 28 to file a response. The judge also ordered Boxill to deliver all recordings of his work with Prince that was covered by the confidentiality agreement that Boxill had with Prince.
One song from the EP, “Deliverance,” was already available for sale and streaming through iTunes and Apple Music before being taken down by Apple, but it was still available on SoundCloud Thursday. Pre-orders through Apple have also been removed.
The track “Man Opera” includes a four-movement medley: “I Am,” “Touch Me,” “Sunrise Sunset,” “No One Else” and an extended cut of “I Am,” according to RMA.
Although it didn’t mention any legal issues, RMA said the EP was to be available digitally on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play Friday, with a disc version coming out nationwide June 2 at retail stores.
The judge said a longer memo explaining her order would be forthcoming, but the key factors noted in her initial order were the threat of irreparable harm to Paisley Park as well as the likelihood of the estate eventually prevailing on the entire request to bar release of the music, the Star-Tribune reported.