Prince: No Music On The Internet; The Internet Is Over

from the maybe-if-we-made-the-internet-purple dept

Remember back in the day when it seemed like Prince was the musician who really had figured out these new digital-era business models? He had done all these interesting experiments, many of which focused on selling new and unique scarcities, and not worrying so much about the infinite goods in the music. Honestly, it seemed like he was the first real “rock star” to be willing not to just experiment, but to embrace the digital era. But all that came crashing down really, really quickly when a few things became apparent. First, while he loved to experiment with new business models, he didn’t seem to actually pay attention to the results. In fact, it became evident that he had little follow through ability at all. He would just throw stuff out there, with promises to his fans, and then not follow through at all.

Second, when it came to Prince and his music, he is all about control. Control is everything to him. And one thing that does not work in this new digital era is being ridiculously anal about controlling how others access or listen to your music. So, he went somewhat ballistic, suing various internet sites for copyright infringement, including YouTube and eBay, which were both odd choices. Since then, he’s walled himself off further and further from the internet. Rather than embrace it, he seems to want to deny it exists all together.

And, it appears, he’s now taking that to a new extreme.

Jeremy2020 points us to a recent interview with Prince by the Mirror out of the UK. Most of the interview just highlights the bizzaro “Prince World” that Prince lives in. On that subject, if you have never seen Kevin Smith’s brilliant and hilarious half-hour discussion of his brief time in “Prince World,” it’s totally worth your time. Having seen that, the interview itself doesn’t seem quite so bizarre, but does seem like “Prince-as-usual.”

But, within the interview, Prince notes that his new album will only be released on CD, and not online. In fact, it looks like he’s doing the exact same CD release strategy he’s done before: release the album with a newspaper. If you subscribe to the newspaper, you get a free copy of the CD. The newspaper pays Prince a huge upfront, so he gets tons of guaranteed cash, and it helps the newspaper keep subscriptions. I actually think that part’s pretty creative, even though he’s done it before. But you would think that fits well with an internet strategy. Not according to Prince:

He explains that he decided the album will be released in CD format only in the Mirror. There’ll be no downloads anywhere in the world because of his ongoing battles against internet abuses.

Unlike most other rock stars, he has banned YouTube and iTunes from using any of his music and has even closed down his own official website.

He says: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.

“The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.

“They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

Of course, this won’t keep Prince’s music offline. The music will be online in no time at all, and it’ll be everywhere, except that Prince won’t have any control or say in it whatsoever. But, of course, if he thinks it’s over and outdated and no good at all, he won’t notice that because he won’t be online.

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Comments on “Prince: No Music On The Internet; The Internet Is Over”

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crade (profile) says:

What he says in your quote makes sense to me, not so much anti-internet as a simple decision not to use it because he can get a better deal elsewhere.

“The internet’s completely over.”

“They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it. “
Probably he got more money from the Mirror if it gets an exclusive deal.

PaulT (profile) says:

While I respect his relatively close embrace of new business models, Prince still has a lot to learn.

For example, the CD/newspaper release it pretty good for getting exposure and gets him income – presumably on a basis that nets him profit even if the newspaper itself doesn’t sell.

But, I live in an area of Spain that’s quite popular with British tourists in July. Due to copyright reasons, whenever a UK newspaper gives away a free DVD or CD, it’s not available here (even though the paper sometimes costs 5x the price). So, tens or hundreds of thousands of tourists are going to be out of the country on the day the paper goes on sale. They miss that copy of the paper, and they’re usually not available when they return from holiday. But, they want the Prince CD. What do they do?

“Pirate” it, of course! His refusal to licence the album online will INCREASE the “piracy” because there’s literally no other way to get the CD! No residual income from iTunes, nobody is able to give him any more money from CD sales (though there will be a lot of 2nd hand ones on eBay). Very, very short-sighted.

Anonymous Coward says:


Remember when Prince said his name was a combination of the male and female symbols. Totally unprouncable! Everyone called him, “the artist formally known as Prince”. This lasted until a New York DJ announced that the combination of the male and female symbols was pronounce “IDIOT”.

I repeat, IDIOT!

Jason Bailey (profile) says:

Re: Remember

Although there is a lot to ridicule Prince about. I have to actually bring up the reasoning behind this particular situation. From what I understand, Prince found himself basically indentured to a record label. Due to a contract he signed, he had almost no creative control.
In a way to mess with the record label, he did the minimal that his contract demanded. He would show up for presentations and have “Slave” written on his face. He changed his name to make it difficult for the record label. When his contract demanded that he produce a video he would. However the contract never stated that he had to release it. Just have one made. Which leads to the surreal experience that Kevin Smith ran into.

charliebrown (profile) says:

Purple Pain

I’m in Australia and I don’t see any of our local papers carrying a free Prince album – not the last one so I doubt this one – thanks, Ponce! In fact, I didn’t even know there had been an album since 2006’s “3121”.

So I guess I will have to buy it off eBay considering it was only as a giveaway in a newspaper. Oh, wait, Prince says eBay is evil for selling his music without compensating him. Then how the fuzzy am I meant to get it legitimately? Move to England?

This is the second time tonight I’ve read about this. All I can say is that in MY OPINION (which does not necessarily reflect the opinion of TechDirt although I hope they get a good laugh out of it) the reason Prince is so short is because he’s got his head so far up his @$$

Grey Ferret says:

Maybe not so stupid...

How much publicity would Prince’s new album get if he hadn’t made such a comment? Nowhere near as much as it’s getting now, that’s for sure.

What better way to get free advertising on the internet than to come out and say “the internet is dead”. Whether its stupid or brilliant, it’s working.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Kudos to Prince-- for protecting Artist Control RIGHTS

MIKE : …Prince and his music, he is all about control. Control is everything to him. And one thing that does not work in this new digital era is being ridiculously anal about controlling how others access or listen to your music. So, he went somewhat ballistic.”

Me : It is all about Artistic CONTROL not $$ , as I have been proclaiming here for a while.

Glad you agree Mike.

Kudos to Prince– for protecting Artist Control RIGHTS

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