Prince Claims When Someone Covers Your Song, The Original No Longer Exists
from the prince-world dept
Ah, Prince. The artist, who is notoriously controlling concerning his own music, has apparently decided that the latest evil in the world is cover songs and the compulsory licenses that make them possible. As you may or may not know, it’s legal to do cover songs, because of compulsory licensing laws that say as long as you pay a set fee, you can cover any song (why such laws don’t apply to samples is weird, and leads to the bizarre situation in which it’s legal to cover an entire song, but do just a second of the song and you may be in legal trouble). Either way, Prince is not a fan. In an appearance on the George Lopez show (embedded below), Prince comes out against the entire idea of cover songs because, apparently, it destroys the original:
Prince: I don’t mind fans singing the songs… My problem is when the industry “covers” the music. See covering the music means that your version doesn’t exist anymore. A lot of times, people think that I’m doing Sinead O’Connor’s song and Chaka Khan’s song when in fact I wrote those songs. And it’s okay when my friends ask to do them, but there’s this thing called the compulsory license law, which allows artists, through the record companies, to take your music, at will, without your permission. And that doesn’t exist in any other artform, be it books, movies — there’s only one version of “Law and Order’ (crowd laughs). There are several versions of “Kiss” and “Purple Rain.”
George Lopez: There should be only one version of music.
Prince (sarcastically): You would think… (crowd laughs)
Hmm. Well. So, apparently Prince’s version of “Purple Rain” no longer exists. I had no idea. As for Prince’s final point, why would you think that? Why is there a problem of anyone doing a cover? Rather than the original no longer existing, it actually exists more, in that more people are aware of and interested in the original.
Of course, all this made me curious. Surely, Prince has covered others songs before. And, in fact, he has. Many, many, many times. Some folks on the Prince fan boards have made a nice list of all the many songs that Prince has apparently “destroyed” of other artists by covering them either for albums or live shows. Of course, perhaps he did this out of spite for those other artists. In fact, Prince has been accused of covering the Foo Fighters during his Superbowl performance to “get revenge” on the Foo Fighters for covering one of his songs. Some revenge. “Destroying” their original song like that in front of the largest TV audience around. Must suck.