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Prince, who received the Billboard Icon Award at Sunday night's ceremony, has announced that he's created a unique new partnership with independent music services company Kobalt Music Group. Prince's issues with record labels are well known, particularly his long and very public feud with his original label, then Warner Bros., particularly over freedom of music releases and control over his masters.

 

Most fans believed that he would never sign with another label again, but Kobalt markets themselves as an alternative to the traditional label model, offering recording owners what they call a full-service solution to releasing and marketing records while maintaining ownership of their masters. This new deal is expected to give Prince the ability to self-release music globally with a new level of flexibility and freedom. According to Kobalt, Prince will release a slate of music by new artists, as well as his own recordings and other Prince-produced material.

 

The legendary performer plans to provide artist development and recording services for newly signed artists that Kobalt will market and distribute globally. 'This new venture gives Prince the flexibility and freedom he's always sought in a label partner. We're providing a high level of diverse services that will be particularly customized to his vision for each release, allowing the world to experience more music from Prince and his creative community,' said Richard Sanders, President of Kobalt.

 

Prince is nearing the end of an 18-date club tour with his highly acclaimed new band, 3rd Eye Girl, with the last two shows happening this Saturday night in his home town of Minneapolis. Prince yesterday received the prestigious Billboard Icon Award during the live broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards. His protégé, Andy Allo, was named 'Billboard's Next Big Diva' and performed at the Billboard pre-party on Saturday night. Prince will headline the Montreux Jazz Festival later this year, along with select dates in Europe and in the U.S. His latest single, Fix Ur Life Up, was released on iTunes last week, amidst talk of a new album with 3rd Eye Girl on the way.

 

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