Did Prince fulfill his album obligations WRT his “$100 million contract” with Warner Bros. Records in 1992?
While we do not know all the details regarding Prince's infamous "$100 million contract" with Warner Bros. Records in 1992 with certainty, what is known that it tied him to the record company for a certain amount of records, most likely six.
Did Prince deliver all six of those records, considering their acrimonious split?
Between 31 August 1992 -- the day he signed the deal -- and 26 April 1996 -- the day Prince and Warner Bros. Records signed the termination agreement -- a number of records were released. Afterwards, the record company released two more albums and two compilations.
The termination agreement was negotiated in the first months of 1996, allegedly by Russ Thyret (one of the few remaining execs who had been with Warners back when Prince first signed with them) and Prince's lawyer L. Londell McMillan, and would allow Prince to leave the label after delivering two more albums instead of the three that he still owed them at that time.
At the signing meeting Prince handed Warner Bros. Chaos And Disorder and The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale, and told them these were the last they should expect from him. Both these records came with the artwork as released, and WBR had no say over the contents.
This number of three records owed is confirmed in a press release from 22 December 1995, in which Prince announced that he
had given notice to Warner Bros. of his desire to terminate his contract. The albums, to be credited to Prince, were to serve as the fulfillment of his contract
The albums mentioned were The Vault - Volumes I, II and III. However, it is highly dubious Prince ever bothered to compile these three archive releases, since he would have known Warners were not going to agree to three compilations of "old music" to fulfill his contract. More than likely this was simply a negotiation technique, an idle threat intended to convey his growing frustration.
Which albums did count towards the deal?
Which albums, released within that period (and afterwards), did not count towards the deal?
- The Hits/The B-Sides (a separate deal; Warners paid Prince $3 million to not be involved because he had held up its release several times)
- The Black Album (part of a separate deal)
- Girl 6 (a soundtrack, and mostly a compilation of older material)
- The Very Best of Prince (part of the deal, but compilations are not counted towards the albums owed)
- Ultimate Prince (part of the deal, but compilations are not counted towards the albums owed)