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Prince deal sets musical record

PRINCE, the American musician, composer and producer, has signed an estimated dollars 100m (pounds 51m) deal with subsidiaries of the media giant Time Warner in what appears to be the largest recording and music publishing contract in history.

The six-album deal, which took a year to negotiate, is unusually lucrative even in the hype-addicted world of international music publishing as it still allows the superstar to pursue film, television, book and other merchandising ventures elsewhere.

The entertainer, from Minneapolis, whose popularity peaked in 1984 with the release of the film and album Purple Rain, will receive more than three times his previous fee and nearly twice as much as more restrictive dollars 60m multi-media deals secured by Michael Jackson and Madonna.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Prince has been guaranteed a dollars 10m advance per album, a separate dollars 20m publishing advance and 25 per cent royalties on every record. He will also be given his own office at Warner Bros' Los Angeles headquarters and will have the title of vice-president.

Prince Roger Nelson, whose father named him after a jazz band, joined Warner as a teenager and produced his first album in 1978, when he was 20. Gilbert Davison, the president of Prince's company, Paisley Park Enterprises, was quoted yesterday as saying: 'We are extremely satisfied with the deal . . . It's nice to know that they see him as such a valuable asset.'

Warner Bros Records and Warner Chappel Music, which have jointly struck the deal, anticipate that Prince will branch into new areas including film soundtracks and discovering other musicians.

Warner Bros will pay some dollars 20m to restructure Paisley Park Records, Prince's record label. Warner will receive administrative rights to distribute original compositions from Prince's Controversy Music catalogue, but he will retain publishing control.

The two sides are reportedly planning a joint record label that will concentrate on street music singles.

Prince's next album is due out on 20 October.