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The Internet Is Over
July 6, 2010 8:09 AM   Subscribe

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 At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.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."
After releasing Cause & Effect and Hot Summer through his local Minneapolis public radio station, Prince elects to forego official digital release of his new album, "20Ten". Instead, he will give it away through France's Courrier International (July 8), England's Daily Mirror and Scotland's Daily Record (July 10), and Germany's Rolling Stone (July 22), starting this week.

No word yet on whether the two released tracks will be on the new album, or of any official US release date.
posted by hippybear (139 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
So instead of putting it on the interwebz, he's sending out thousands of digital, DRM-free copies.

Interesting strategy...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:17 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


s/internet/Prince
posted by Behemoth at 8:17 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Nice write-off. I'm pretty sure he has both "digital gadgets" and "computers" to thank for some production work on, lets say, his last 5 albums.
posted by cbecker333 at 8:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


My favorite line is "There'll be no downloads anywhere in the world". Such naivete!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good

Neither are the Vikings.
posted by Think_Long at 8:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that or the bit about how he deserves an advance. Could he be a more stereotypically self-absorbed, narcissistic pop star? You're past your prime, dude.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:19 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm way ahead of him: I never downloaded any previous Prince albums either.
posted by DU at 8:19 AM on July 6, 2010 [40 favorites]


... and then he served us pancakes.
posted by electroboy at 8:20 AM on July 6, 2010 [29 favorites]


Dammit. Prince's continuing smoldering approval was pretty much the only thing getting me through the day.
posted by cortex at 8:22 AM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Listening to Cause & Effect and Hot Summer, I'd say it's more like Prince is over.
posted by papercake at 8:22 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Except, you know, all of his classic albums from the 80s are on iTunes and presumably Amazon and that's what most of us want to listen to anyway. I'm not opposed to his new stuff, but I'm not willing to lay out $20 for it unheard. There are bands whose music I like a lot better than I like Prince's that I won't do that for.
posted by immlass at 8:24 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's an awful lot of crazy in this story, and as I think about this, and I find that I'm not surprised, just because it's Prince. It's as if I've got a limited number of crazy-passes, which exempts the bearer from scorn, and somehow Prince got a hold of one.

I mean, I want to make fun of this: "Playing electric guitar your whole life does something to you. I'm convinced all that electricity racing through my body made me keep my hair," but I find that I can't. I just can't. The man must have a crazy-pass, or something.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:24 AM on July 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


It's stuff like this and this that has my mental image of Prince stuck at "Purple Ompah Loompah having a tantrum."
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


TCP/RIP :(
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


This statement seems calculated to maximize online buzz.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 8:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think I would shake his hand if he offered it. There's something very vampirish and creepy about Prince.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course the internet is over. The future is TV Hat, all the way.
posted by crunchland at 8:32 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, if the internet is over, I think we should all go home.
posted by monospace at 8:32 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Prince, still partying like it's 1999.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:33 AM on July 6, 2010 [33 favorites]


SOME GIZMO
posted by boo_radley at 8:35 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually the death of the Internet was prophesised in Psalms 90:4. Prince and his fellow witnesses are currently holding hands around a webserver waiting for it to descend into hellfire.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:36 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


"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."

The mighty Prince-o-saur bellows towards the small, bored rodents sunning themselves on a nearby rock, and thinks: "What good are they? They're barely large enough for a snack!"

We've evolved past the shackles of traditional media (tapes, cd's, vinyl EP's and LP's.) He just doesn't realize it yet.
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, at least he's trying out different things to keep control of his music. It's not going to work, but, at least he's experimenting for what he knows.

He's in a tough position- smaller artists can do the independent music thing and make some decent money even with piracy - the usual indie methods won't provide enough income to support his lifestyle.

And as narcissistic as he may be, he damn well knows his name and his music is advertising - by attaching his name to any distributer, he brings in more sales than just his album alone. From the same guy who lost control over using his name to a record label in the past, of course he's going to expect an advance.
posted by yeloson at 8:38 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't get it. So what, Price is crazy, and does weird, eccentric things pretty much all the time. Haven't we all known this for at least a decade? He has mountains of money, every right to spend it however he wants, and no obligation to *not* be wildly eccentric, I mean, he is a pop musician he doesn't have a high obligation.

Instead of talking about the new album from some guy who makes weird albums, let's talk about the Engie update. Almost 50 Golden Wrenches so far! What's next, a new pistol, or some new kind of buildings? What about that comic, huh, that was hilarious right?
posted by paisley henosis at 8:39 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think I would shake his hand if he offered it. There's something very vampirish and creepy about Prince.


Touch if you will my stomach
Feel how it trembles inside
You've got the butterflies all tied up
Don't make me chase you
Even doves have pride

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that's so cold?
So cold.
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father too bold
Maybe you're just like my mother
She's never satisfied
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I mean, I want to make fun of this: "Playing electric guitar your whole life does something to you. I'm convinced all that electricity racing through my body made me keep my hair," but I find that I can't. I just can't. The man must have a crazy-pass, or something.

Prince has a complete, utter and total crazy pass from me. Short of doing something immoral with young children, he can get away with just about anything as far as I'm concerned.

Plus, his ignorance about the internet is charming. He's distributing through newspapers! That dying breed of publications is his choice for getting his music out. Shine on you crazy little musical genius!
posted by new brand day at 8:44 AM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


The first official release of a big name musician is in two days, and the album hasn't been uploaded yet, that's an accomplishment right there, to be honest.

Although I don't know why I'm mentioning it, since this post is about the Engie update now.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:45 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite line is "There'll be no downloads anywhere in the world". Such naivete!

Seriously. Who knew Prince was as tech savvy as Ted (the internet is a series of tubes) Stevens.
posted by nola at 8:45 AM on July 6, 2010


Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.

Yeah, you know what else is so over? Hammers and fucking nails. First it was all "build a house" or "fix a deck," but what have they done for me lately? Nothing. Same with goddamned chainsaws. Fuck those bitches.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:49 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


God he sucks so bad and has for years.
posted by dobbs at 8:49 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Prince has a complete, utter and total crazy pass from me. Short of doing something immoral with young children, he can get away with just about anything as far as I'm concerned.

Agreed. I don't care what the man does. He's a bona fide musical polymath who's written a more diverse (if not 100% enduring) body of songs than anyone in the last century ... and self-played most of them as well. Set the Nuts Factor to 10!

(Come to think of it, "Nuts Factor" sounds like one of his old 1982 B-sides. With lots of extra Wendy & Lisa moaning.)

posted by mykescipark at 8:52 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


MTV went downhill when it became all commercials and reality shows. Sold out, in other words. I hope prance takes that lesson to heart....
posted by Redhush at 8:53 AM on July 6, 2010


> Touch if you will my stomach
Feel how it trembles inside


Well, if my shunning him is the inspiration for a creepy new hit single, then he'd better break me off a percentage point or two.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 AM on July 6, 2010


Set the Nuts Factor to 10!

This one goes to 11.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:55 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Prince is right, there will be no downloading that he facilitates.
posted by kuatto at 8:55 AM on July 6, 2010


paisley henosis, level with us, you're Prince, aren't you?
posted by Mick at 8:56 AM on July 6, 2010


1999 - Purple Rain - Around the World in A day - Parade - Sign of the Times - The Black Album - Lovesexy. Seven albums, five years, 1983-88, all of them motherf***ers. You kind of had to be there to genuinely "get it". Prince was THE popular recording artist of the 1980s. He always connected. He never pandered. His live shows were even better than his records.

Now, I just think of him as a one man Beatles who somehow managed to split-up at his peak and go separate ways, with none of his subsequent stuff approaching his former genius. To be disappointed is to be unrealistic. We've already gotten more from the guy than any culture has a right to expect.
posted by philip-random at 8:57 AM on July 6, 2010 [34 favorites]


So instead of putting it on the interwebz, he's sending out thousands of digital, DRM-free copies.

Interesting strategy...


He's getting paid for the right to make those copies. Compared with the cutting edge strategy of releasing music for nothing and hoping you can sell t-shirts, this has the advantage of cutting him a guaranteed cheque, and the disadvantage of reminding all of us that we turned the internet into an enormous strip mall, and thus raising our hackles.

The idea that Prince is doing it to keep you from torrenting his stuff is a fantasy.
posted by mobunited at 8:58 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


As described in one of Kevin Smith's monologues, Prince was very, very unhappy about the long-in-place industry standard for royalties for song covers - that you could cover a song and all you'd have to do is pay the artist/song-owner for it - the artist had no say over you doing it.

Prince probably thinks about the business/distribution of his music 100x more than other artists of his position - and stayed in Minneapolis, which is why he still has piles of money.

Now that we've established me as some sort of Prince apologist, let me say that from his viewpoint, the internet probably is over - in a "the place to release your big album and have people stand up and take notice" sort of way. Prince has been releasing albums online a long time.

I assume he will have made a deal with the CDs, and will sue the stuffing out of places making a buck off the music (ads, etc.), leaving fans alone.

Or he may put on a floppy hat and ride a unicorn into space.
posted by jscott at 8:58 AM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


Germany's Rolling Stone gives details about the album, including a track list (not included -- Cause & Effect and Hot Summer). Google Translate link.
posted by hippybear at 8:59 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Prince still gets a pass from me for the guitar solo he played on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." I still want to know where that guitar went.
posted by emelenjr at 9:05 AM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I always have to be careful not to badmouth prince to much or my girlfriend will punch me.

help me
posted by nola at 9:05 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Structural changes in my brain caused by listening to Darling Nikki in 7th grade cause me to forgive Prince just about anything.
posted by Babblesort at 9:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


I seem to recall he did something like this before, giving away the album when you bought a concert ticket, which then counted as a sale and pushed his album up the charts.

Is this another ploy to play the charts system? Instead of limiting the gift albums to those wiling to see his show, he's getting an audience the size of the distribution of those papers.
posted by tomben at 9:09 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Silly little man. We knew the internet was over 10 years ago.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:11 AM on July 6, 2010


Juxtapose Prince's thoughts about the internet with Terre Thaemlitz's experience with Itunes and other online music distributors.

Please note that nobody has legal permission from me to sell MP3 downloads of my music - not iTunes, not e-music, not anyone. They are selling my music illegally. They and the distributors they deal with have no contracts with me, and do not pay me a single penny of your purchase cost. They continually ignore my written requests to have my works removed from their profit-engines, knowing that the money at issue is less than the cost of my hiring a lawyer to resolve this ongoing mess. Please do not pay those mainstream corporate assholes for downloads of my music! They complain about MP3 copy protection issues while deliberately and systematically stealing from independent producers like myself - and consumers like you! Make no mistake, they are the music pirates to worry about!
-- Terre Thaemlitz

Link

Prince may sound crazy. But from his view point the internet is over as a way to distribute and sell his music. Perhaps the quote in the article was taken out of context to make him sound crazy?


Terre Thaemlitz quote from koeselitz's excellent metafilter post
HERE
posted by yertledaturtle at 9:12 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


A completely bonkers, out-of-touch poet/musician... Value =?
posted by uraniumwilly at 9:18 AM on July 6, 2010


Structural changes in my brain caused by listening to Darling Nikki in 7th grade cause me to forgive Prince just about anything.

Wow. So you were the one Tipper was so worried about.
posted by gompa at 9:23 AM on July 6, 2010


Honestly, I don't really care whether Prince is crazy or just crazy like a fox. I'm not a particularly big Kevin Smith fan, but his Prince story sounds very plausible, given Prince's flaky behavior (recalling half a million copies of the Black Album because he decided almost literally at the last minute that it was "evil", changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol and then back again, various concert cancellations, etc.). So he unilaterally decides that the Internet is "over"? Whatever, little man.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:29 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually kind of agree with him that "digital gadgets are no good". I have yet to find a mobile computer that is both mobile AND a computer. I can find mobile things that suck at computing and computers that are barely mobile, but not both.
posted by DU at 9:29 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Other things that are over, according to Prince:

Oxygen
Hot dogs
Fluoride
The magic of cinema
Hands
The Panama Canal
His relevancy
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:32 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Short of doing something immoral with young children

I seem to recall one of those Sut Jhally or Jean Kilbourne videos criticizing the sexualized depiction of a prepubescent girl in some Prince video, maybe 'Diamonds and Pearls'?

(That's not to say that I agree, or even that the recollection is accurate.)
posted by box at 9:32 AM on July 6, 2010


I seem to recall he did something like this before, giving away the album when you bought a concert ticket, which then counted as a sale and pushed his album up the charts.

Yeah, he did that.

He also gave a recent album away in the newspapers in the UK so even this stupid stunt is nothing new.

He seems like a batshit insane artist to me who at least has the brains to recognize how absolutely irrelevant he is in today's musical landscape. Oh yeah, he'll keep recording, but he knows he can't match his old sales so rather than put them on the market and find out that's the case, he'll simply fuck with the distribution model so there's no reasonable way to compare to anyone else.

If he actually managed to a record an album worth listening to, he'd know it. And at that point, he'd embrace traditional distribution methods of old and new in a heartbeat.
posted by dobbs at 9:32 AM on July 6, 2010


As jscott points out, he's been releasing music online for a long time:

For several years following the release of Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic [in 1999], Prince primarily released new music through his Internet subscription service, NPGOnlineLtd.com (later NPGMusicClub.com). (Wiki)

So it's not like he's some Luddite or noob. Just sick of working with iTunes etc.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:32 AM on July 6, 2010


Well, if he's got his money he's not THAT crazy, and it's not like his assesment of the Internet being full of people unwilling to pay for anything is off in the slightest.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on July 6, 2010


people who bring up his name change as evidence that he's crazy are uninformed, willfully missing the point, or taking the piss. prince going to weird lengths to ensure that his music is his and in his control is just very prince and utterly understandable with his history.

i want him to live forever and i also want his vaults opened up - sadly, as long as he's alive, those vaults will remain closed (and i actually imagine he has a complicated "burn it"/"keep it" plan for right after he dies).

so, yeah, i guess prince gets a crazy pass from me too - being one of the best, if not best, living musicians comes with perks like that.
posted by nadawi at 9:43 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, if my shunning him is the inspiration for a creepy new hit single, then he'd better break me off a percentage point or two.

You might want to check where that percentage has been, first. ;)
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on July 6, 2010


i also can't blame him with itunes - i mean, i won't let it on my computer.
posted by nadawi at 9:45 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, people were actually taking the quote at face value and not applying it to music sales and distribution? We don't need an excuse to call Prince a Crazy McNutty pants without besmirching his business acumen--he can be a creepy has-been and have a good finance and legal team!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2010


Huh, if Prince had like put out maybe one remotely listenable album in the last, oh, 15 years, I might be willing to break out the crazy pass. But ..... no.

Although ..... on the other hand, James Brown was all kinds of crazy and didn't put out anything remotely listenable the last 27 years of his life, and he gets every crazy pass I've got, so ..... maybe?

But no. Prince ain't James Brown.
posted by blucevalo at 9:49 AM on July 6, 2010


Video of Kevin Smith's Prince Story, that transcript is hard to read and incomplete.
posted by borkencode at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


La la la la la la I can see this or hear this. I'm still listening to Purple Rain and 1999. They will forever and always make me feel like a badass goddess of the universe. For that all this weird shit is forgiven. But yeah, wtf.
posted by mokeydraws at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan. There is very little doubt that Prince is a bit eccentric perhaps he is even crazy.

That being said - journalists misquote and pull quotes out of context from the people they interview often.
posted by yertledaturtle at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2010


This entire event has been worth it to see Gizmodo's snark.
posted by effugas at 10:01 AM on July 6, 2010


gizmodo can DIAF.
posted by nadawi at 10:02 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow, who would have guessed that Prince would turn out to be an eccentric weirdo?
posted by rocket88 at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


The idea that Prince is doing it to keep you from torrenting his stuff is a fantasy.

Oh I get that, and I like to think that, despite his media-friendly hyperbole, so does he.

That's why I said it was an interesting strategy. He apparently believes (and he'd know better than I) that he'll reap more from a newspaper in a moderately-populated country than he would via iTunes or Amazon or whatever.

It may say more about the desperation of newspapers than it does about digital distribution, in the end.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:05 AM on July 6, 2010


Please note that nobody has legal permission from me to sell MP3 downloads of my music - not iTunes, not e-music, not anyone. They are selling my music illegally. They and the distributors they deal with have no contracts with me, and do not pay me a single penny of your purchase cost.

What the fuck, is this true? And if it's so widespread, why aren't there huge class action lawsuits getting filed?
posted by naju at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2010


Ladies and gentlemen:

Batdance.

The song that knocked Martika's "Toy Soldiers" off the billboard top 100. Not until the fantastic "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx was this song excised from the number one position.

This triumverate of songs quite literally defines the year in music, 1989.

Prince gets a pass for being one of the three musical maestros that made 1989 - "The Year That I First Got Some Action".
posted by longbaugh at 10:07 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Artist Formerly Known as rational (mostly).
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:07 AM on July 6, 2010


Wow, who would have guessed that Prince would turn out to be an eccentric weirdo?

I did! I did! What do I win?
posted by cjorgensen at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2010


He apparently believes (and he'd know better than I) that he'll reap more from a newspaper in a moderately-populated country than he would via iTunes or Amazon or whatever.

As with the Planet Earth giveaway a few years ago, his giveaway of 20Ten is timed exactly to coincide with a pretty aggressive tour of Europe this summer. Remember -- the man sold out 21 nights at the O2 arena (extended from 15 nights) during that tour.

He knows what he's doing, I suspect.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


naju - without looking it up, i suspect he's referring to his battles over ownership of his music with his former label.
posted by nadawi at 10:17 AM on July 6, 2010


Prince must have gotten one of my "crazy passes," too, .kobayashi. I've always found Prince to be incredibly talented if, yes, a freakin' nutbar.

Also, the people saying Prince seems creepy: really? I may not like everything the man says or does, but god damn, I've had a (girl) boner for him since I was, like, 10. I remember seeing the video for "Kiss" and thinking: this is the sexiest man alive. (This may explain my lifelong attraction to guys who are "small, dark and pretty".) 25 years later, he's still in the top tier of hotness, I don't care how whacked out he gets.
posted by apis mellifera at 10:18 AM on July 6, 2010


The Pinker Tones already did this and you didn't need to buy a newspaper. They also weren't all sniffy about the internet, and positively encouraged buying it from iTunes to ensure the money went to the artist.
posted by RegMcF at 10:21 AM on July 6, 2010


Naju,

I am not sure how often and which artists have their music sold via itunes and other music distribution services without their permission. Although, I am pretty sure that it does happen.

A class action suit might actually be a possibility, if enough musicians want to do something about it.
posted by yertledaturtle at 10:24 AM on July 6, 2010


This triumverate of songs quite literally defines the year in music, 1989.

WRONG!!!

posted by philip-random at 10:26 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


> He knows what he's doing, I suspect.

It would seem so. Performers tend to make more off of concert ticket sales than album sales anyway. If there is anything remotely good (not likely) on the album it will get radio play and royalties anyway. If Prince or anyone else can give the middle finger to big distributors then good for him.

He's still a crazy wanker, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 AM on July 6, 2010


> WRONG!!!

Now there is some non-emasculated music. Prince had to play with the hand nature dealt him, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on July 6, 2010


Reading further down on Thaemlitz's page, it looks like the distributor Iris is the offender there. That's a huge online distributor of indie music, though, so yeah, someone should look into it. But the huge iTunes/emusic/etc. "fuck the artist!" conspiracy I was imagining, not so much.
posted by naju at 10:29 AM on July 6, 2010


Taking a cue from Prince when he became outdated, let's replace it with the symbol @, and refer to it as the "failure resistant communications mesh formally known as ARPANET".
posted by hanoixan at 10:31 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


"An artist who was once known as Prince
On the stage he would wiggle and mince
And then, for a giggle, He changed his name to a squiggle
And nobody's heard of him since
" - Tim Brooke-Taylor
posted by Lanark at 10:35 AM on July 6, 2010


Taking a cue from Prince when he became outdated

And nobody's heard of him since


in 2004 he made 56.5 million dollars, making him the highest paid musician that year. he's still doing just fine.
posted by nadawi at 10:41 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


naju,

I don't think it is a huge conspiracy by Apple to "fuck the artist". It is still not cool that they sell music from any artist without their permission or a contract imo. If it is only a few artists though perhaps a class action lawsuit would still be a possibility? It might just be Iris that is doing this though.

I can imagine how frustrating it would be if my music was ripped from my soundcloud account or from a CD or record of my releases and offered up for sale on itunes without my permission.
posted by yertledaturtle at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2010


+b Prince!*@*
posted by phaedon at 10:46 AM on July 6, 2010


What the fuck, is this true? And if it's so widespread, why aren't there huge class action lawsuits getting filed?

IS it true is exactly the point. I don't really know one way or the other what Terre Thaemletz' deal is, but it's not at all unusual for artists to complain that someone somewhere is doing something "without their permission". Never mind the fact that they may have contracted out their work to a record label that doesn't NEED their permission to do whatever they want with the songs. This predates the internet by decades: pretty much from the first time a record label put out a cash grab collection of an artist's material there have been artists bitching that they didn't have "permission" to do so. The permission is the contract they signed. Again, Thaemlitz may have a legitimate bitch in his particular instance, but I wouldn't make any assumptions.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:02 AM on July 6, 2010


changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol and then back again

As I recall, he did that to do an end-run around a contract he wasn't happy with.
posted by davejay at 11:13 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


in 2004 he made 56.5 million dollars, making him the highest paid musician that year. he's still doing just fine.

I'd like to see a breakdown on that $56.5m, though, because I suspect that a pretty large chunk of it is coming from royalties on his Warner Bros catalog. I think the vast majority of people that have even heard the material to begin with would have to admit that the quality of his work dropped off significantly almost the moment Prince went independent.

It's no surprise that "Musicology" was both welcomed as his best album in years, and also the first one he'd released on a major label in a decade: some artists just need outside opinions for quality control purposes, and if given carte blanche to release whatever they want they tend to churn out reams of half hearted material instead of taking the time to really perfect a handful of their best songs (as anyone who has sat through more than one Ryan Adams bootleg will attest, being able to write a song a day is not necessarily a noteworthy achievement in and of itself).
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:15 AM on July 6, 2010


he got paid a few million dollars to play coachella a couple years ago. it's fine if you don't like his music or respect him has a musician, but there are obviously a huge group of people that feel differently.
posted by nadawi at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2010


Man, bunch of people around here take the internet *personally*, huh. Poor widdle internet, is that big tough rockstar beating up on you? There there...

Fortunately (for my own sense of the rightness of things) a bunch of people apparently take Prince fairly personally, too, as do I - lifetime crazy-pass indeed.

Now if only he'd play someplace within a few hundred miles of me, for less than a few hundred dollars a ticket...
posted by hap_hazard at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see a breakdown on that $56.5m, though, because I suspect that a pretty large chunk of it is coming from royalties on his Warner Bros catalog.

The breakdown isn't really all that relevant. He's still laughing his crazy ass off all the way to the Purple Bank of Minnesota.
posted by blucevalo at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


As I recall, he did that to do an end-run around a contract he wasn't happy with.

I know that's what he has been quoted as saying, but I've always found that explanation a little puzzling. First of all, Prince states "The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince". That would be the first contract of it's kind that I've ever heard of. I'm not aware of a single other instance where an artist had to change their name (or even the band name) after leaving a record label because the record label owns the name. They may own the material released thus far under that name, but that would have to be a pretty unique contract for Warner Bros to be able to prevent him from ever using the name Prince to record for another company.

Considering other factors, though, I have to call bullshit. For one, he started using the Love Symbol several years before he left Warner Brothers, so I'm not sure how that was intended to benefit him in terms of his music rights on albums such as "Diamonds and Pearls" and "The Gold Experience". Also, if his reasoning was sound (and not just an exaggeration of how bad WB was treating him) then how is it he has since reverted to selling independent albums under the name Prince? I guess there may be some kind of convoluted, improbable contract negotiations that were done between Prince and WB in recent years, but it would be hard to explain how that leverage swung back in Prince's favor years into his commercial decline, so until I see some facts I'm just going to assume the above quote was a retroactive fabrication designed to get fans pissed at WB, and no more.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:39 AM on July 6, 2010


I think it's obvious he meant legit, licensed downloads.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The breakdown isn't really all that relevant. He's still laughing his crazy ass off all the way to the Purple Bank of Minnesota.

It's relevant if you're rebutting the idea that he's "outdated", which is part of the post you quoted. Nobody is saying he's broke, just that he hasn't been artistically relevant for years.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:41 AM on July 6, 2010


I know that's what he has been quoted as saying, but I've always found that explanation a little puzzling. First of all, Prince states "The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince". That would be the first contract of it's kind that I've ever heard of. I'm not aware of a single other instance where an artist had to change their name (or even the band name) after leaving a record label because the record label owns the name.

From what I remember hearing, he changed his name to screw his record company, and then changed it back when his contract expired.
posted by delmoi at 11:44 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


yeah, he changed his name and drew slave on his face and all of that to prove a point about over reaching contracts and to devalue the rest of the material that warner brothers required of him. as to being artistically relevant - that's a matter of opinion, and one not shared by the people who still buy his albums, join his fanclubs, and go to his shows.
posted by nadawi at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2010


Nobody is saying he's broke, just that he hasn't been artistically relevant for years.

I'm not arguing that he's "artistically relevant." I still don't think the breakdown's all that significant. I don't think Stevie Wonder's crying because most of his earnings are royalties from the records he made over 35 years ago. Not many would argue that he's "artistically relevant" anymore either.
posted by blucevalo at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2010


From what I remember hearing, he changed his name to screw his record company, and then changed it back when his contract expired.

Screw them in what way, though? I don't think too many people assumed he dropped off the face of the planet after "Diamonds and Pearls" (which was actually a Prince album, not an AFKAP one as I intimated above). Maybe that was the intention and it just didn't work, but it's nonetheless puzzling how he continued using the Love Symbol for numerous albums into his indie period before suddenly reverting back to Prince around the time of (as near as I can figure) 2002's "One Nite Alone". I don't know, I still think the most likely explanation is that it was a poorly thought out, pretentious move that never really amounted to anything, but that he clung to stubbornly for years until no one was really paying attention anymore anyway.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2010


Personally, I don't think "artistically relevant" is an artistically relevant phrase.
posted by Think_Long at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


His years of using the Love Symbol and Prince at the same time were a calculated move. He was releasing the material he felt was his better work under the Love Symbol, which I believe had a whole different set of music publishing and distribution deals attached to it, and then was releasing what he considered his weaker, darker material as Prince. It was sort of an experiment trying to force WB into releasing him from his contract by having higher sales under the Symbol than under Prince. It did lead to a rather schizophrenic catalog there for a while, and ultimately probably ended up damaging his marketing and public awareness.

He's also used a lot of other names over the years, including The Kid, The Time (he pretty much WAS that band aside from Morris Day for the first few albums), Christopher (his pseudonym when he wrote Manic Monday), and a lot of others. Oh, and most notoriously, Camille, who is the sped-up voice heard on "Housequake". He's never been content to simply be "Prince".

He's back to using Prince now because, well, that's his name. He still uses the Symbol regularly, just not as his name anymore.

My Google-fu is failing me -- I can't find the excellent website where I read all this just a year or so ago. I'll keep digging and see if I can find it. It was pretty fascinating to discover that a lot of the confusion I was feeling as a fan was actually a series of calculated moves by his Purpleness to try to get out of his WB contract.

More than anything, I just wish he'd do another album with The Revolution. You know, for old time's sake.
posted by hippybear at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Twice married and divorced, he has been with the singer, who's almost half his age, for three years."

Who got time for the Internet, yo?
posted by Twang at 12:09 PM on July 6, 2010


I wish he'd do another record as The Time.
posted by box at 12:13 PM on July 6, 2010


I wish he'd do another record as The Time.

I'm right there with ya, but I think that they earned their cred as their own entity with the release of Pandemonium.
posted by hippybear at 12:16 PM on July 6, 2010


@hippybear This might not be it, but it sure takes me back to the early net! & it's got a buncha stuff on the name.
posted by Twang at 12:16 PM on July 6, 2010


and I know I've linked this before, but if you want a glimpse into how Prince could have ruled the 90s (if he'd so desired), check out this reconstruction of his unreleased-and-subsequently-dismembered project The Dawn.
posted by hippybear at 12:21 PM on July 6, 2010


angelfire! Noooo! Ahhh! My eyes!

(no that's not it, but it's a pretty good resource. thanks!)
posted by hippybear at 12:22 PM on July 6, 2010


His years of using the Love Symbol and Prince at the same time were a calculated move. He was releasing the material he felt was his better work under the Love Symbol, which I believe had a whole different set of music publishing and distribution deals attached to it, and then was releasing what he considered his weaker, darker material as Prince. It was sort of an experiment trying to force WB into releasing him from his contract by having higher sales under the Symbol than under Prince.

Apologies in advance if I sound like I'm belaboring the point here, but I do have more than a passing interest in the subject (I'm getting an Associates in Commercial Music Mgmt at Austin Comm. College but admittedly haven't taken the Business & Legal Practices course yet, so I profess no expertise in this area, just a burgeoning interest).

I'm just trying to figure out how an existing contract would have allowed for different publishing and royalties merely by releasing his music under another name, and why Warner Brothers would have been powerless to dictate under what name the music was distributed in any case?

I'm pretty sure that he ended up getting out of his contract the traditional way: by fulfilling it with the number of albums he was contracted for. He certainly put out a hell of a lot of material on WB after the name change. And again, he kept releasing albums under the Love Symbol exclusively for years before suddenly reverting back to Prince, which he has used consistently ever since (some of his albums have featured the love symbol as ornamentation in the album art but I don't find any in his wiki discography that have been marketed with the symbol as his name since 2002's "One Nite Alone")
posted by squeakyfromme at 12:27 PM on July 6, 2010


Artistically relevant? What does that even mean? Relevant to whom?

All these people crying about how he's "lost it" need to listen to 3121 which came out in 2006, and debuted at #1 on the charts. It's not his best album ever but it has at least 3 great songs, putting it inline with his mid-80s output.

He doesn't need a crazy pass here, just a figurative speech pass. People above have pretty well outlined why what he's doing makes sense economically. He could have said, "I'm done releasing things on the internet," but it's more fun to say "the internet is over."
posted by Locobot at 12:36 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not aware of a single other instance where an artist had to change their name (or even the band name) after leaving a record label because the record label owns the name.

Parliament-Funkadelic. "Parliament" belonged to a failing record company, so they changed their name to Funkadelic until the coast was clear.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:54 PM on July 6, 2010


I just saw Prince perform live this weekend. It was a damn good concert, as good as when I saw Michael Jackson perform back in the 90's (but very, very different). To me he's still relevant whatever that means.
posted by sveskemus at 1:05 PM on July 6, 2010


Parliament-Funkadelic. "Parliament" belonged to a failing record company, so they changed their name to Funkadelic until the coast was clear.

Thanks for the example, but since this dated back to the early 60s when "The Parliaments" were a doo-wop group, I'm wondering if this isn't an outdated contract model. It's pretty well established that early on musical artists were almost literally indentured servants and that their battle for rights over their own music was very gradual (with the likes of turn-of-the-70s albums from Motown and - a little later - the Outlaw Country movement often being cited as turning points).

Since 1980 at the latest it seems that by far the standard expectation is that the artist (or at least one specific band member) retains the rights to the name. As Ivan Hoffman, an attorney specializing in trademark law in the entertainment field explains:

The band, in its contract with the label, will most likely give the label the exclusive right to use the name of the band in connection with the recordings made under the provisions of the contract. But the agreement must state that after the term of the agreement, that right will be non-exclusive, meaning that a new label can use the band's name for recordings made under the new contract and that the exclusive grant to the current label will not exclude the right of prior labels to use the name in connection with recordings made under that prior agreement.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:08 PM on July 6, 2010


Since 1980 at the latest it seems that by far the standard expectation is that the artist (or at least one specific band member) retains the rights to the name

(and even if Prince was a special case of atavistic negotiating it still seems unlikely that the contract would have allowed him to recapture his musical rights by insisting on using a name other than Prince, something WB would surely have the ability to override. If he'd changed his name to the symbol only AFTER leaving WB this would be an entirely different argument)
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2010


Since 1980 at the latest it seems that by far the standard expectation...

Since Prince released his first WB album in 1978, it may be that he was under an older form of contract.
posted by hippybear at 1:21 PM on July 6, 2010


Even so...
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:25 PM on July 6, 2010


Like a lot of contracts signed in the '70s, it also inclued a provision about the moustache.
posted by box at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bob Lefsetz: "Forget that Prince is plain wrong. (What's next, is he going to rail against telephones and automobiles? Or tell us to stop using cell phones?) It's the fact that he's so out of touch that has us laughing at him, something no one banking on cool to succeed should ever want .... If Prince were smart and in touch, he would have utilized new media to deliver buzz about his album. Or, he could finally realize no one's listening to anything but his hits and if he wants us to pay attention once again, he's got to create another hit, another track so infectious, one listen makes the hair on your arm stand up and your feet run to the dance floor."

I'm inclined to agree. 3121 and Musicology weren't all that, even if they did hit #1 on Billboard. There are hungrier artists out there who don't live in ice cream castles and are making music that outdoes Prince at his own game. Meanwhile Prince coasts on his laurels and rails against "nasty" songs that "anybody can write" and numbers being shoved into our brains by the internets. Sure, he's earned the right to coast, as much as any genius has. That doesn't make his proclamations any less absurd, nor does it make his new music any better.
posted by blucevalo at 1:29 PM on July 6, 2010


Shut up already, damn.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:33 PM on July 6, 2010


Not any of you. I am just SO INTO housequake these days. He gets the crazy pass.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not aware of a single other instance where an artist had to change their name (or even the band name) after leaving a record label because the record label owns the name.

It's happened. This is why The Jackson 5 became The Jacksons.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:37 PM on July 6, 2010


My Google-fu is still failing, but there's a certain amount of information about WB's interference with Prince's release of Come on the Wikipedia page for that album, and there is an article (hidden behind a paywall) which may explain a lot more.

While I understand that you're studying this topic, squeakyfromme, sometimes you have to just accept that circumstances are what they are, and people have done what they feel they must in order to transcend them. I'll keep digging, but at this point, I'm not sure I'll find the rather excellent article which I read back then.
posted by hippybear at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2010


sometimes you have to just accept that circumstances are what they are

... or that others just aren't as interested in digging into this, ha ha. Actually the info that has been linked to so far seems to basically just be taking Prince at his own word... which really ONLY makes sense if you take it on face value without thinking too much about it (again, this would be a totally different argument if the name change happened subsequent to him leaving WB and not during). But whatever, I understand it's sheer minutiae for most fans and has little bearing on his actual musical legacy.

Even on the latter point I still wish him the best. I thought both "Musicology" and "3121" were largely a return to form - even if they didn't rise to the heights of "Purple Rain" or "Sign O' the Times" they were at least as good as, say, "Lovesexy" - but these last couple of releases since then seem to be a regression back to his quantity-over-quality phase. Guess that's just the frustration you have to live with when you're waiting for an artist's genius to reawaken.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:44 PM on July 6, 2010


I'm not aware of a single other instance where an artist had to change their name (or even the band name) after leaving a record label because the record label owns the name.

Well, John Fogerty got sued by his former label for plagiarizing one of his own songs. And both Joe Strummer and George Michael just outright quit the biz for a number of years to "wait out" long term, multi-year contracts they'd signed and finally found too odious to honor.

I'm sure Prince would tell you, when you're dealing with Big Deal record labels, it's best to imagine all deals with them as deals with the devil ... and not just metaphorically.
posted by philip-random at 2:50 PM on July 6, 2010


when you're dealing with Big Deal record labels, it's best to imagine all deals with them as deals with the devil

That's just it: the idea of Prince recapturing his music rights by simply changing his name mid-contract, while WB execs stood on the sidelines, wringing their hands and muttering "drats, foiled again!", but otherwise unable to lift a finger to stop him... the whole thing sounds too good to be true.
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:20 PM on July 6, 2010


I don't think I would shake his hand if he offered it. There's something very vampirish and creepy about Prince.
posted by Burhanistan


This bothers me. I suppose you'll claim next that vampires shouldn't be allowed to marry, vote, or work for the Red Cross.
posted by mecran01 at 3:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think I would shake his hand if he offered it. There's something very vampirish and creepy about Prince.

jack_mo grasps where 'stans fear to shake:
Top of the sinister/hot charts is Prince. Shaking hands with that brilliant little weirdo was like being wanked off by a leering, declawed zombie cat.
posted by bonaldi at 4:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aha! I knew he had a way to suck energy.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:05 PM on July 6, 2010


I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else.

Funny inside 'secret' about legit online music retailers, for many music labels, when someone like iTunes or Rhapsody signs a contract to sell artist-A's music, the label doesn't actually send them a copy of the music. The online store actually has to go to a regular retailer, buy a regular CD, and rip it, just like you or me. Only recently, and only for some labels, have they started providing both metadata and music-files, in one e-delivery system.
posted by nomisxid at 4:52 PM on July 6, 2010


This bothers me. I suppose you'll claim next that vampires shouldn't be allowed to marry, vote, or work for the Red Cross.

Every thread eventually comes to be about Lady Gaga or True Blood.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2010


If only we could combine the two
posted by The Whelk at 5:10 PM on July 6, 2010


dirtdirt, thank you for posting Housequake, damn I had entirely forgotten about that song! Yes, he gets the crazy pass.
posted by drinkyclown at 6:14 PM on July 6, 2010


Prince gets a lifetime crazy-pass from me on the strength of his live shows alone. It's like he reinvented performance. The man is an absolute genius.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:47 PM on July 6, 2010


"First of all, Prince states "The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince". That would be the first contract of it's kind that I've ever heard of. I'm not aware of a single other instance where an artist had to change their name (or even the band name) after leaving a record label because the record label owns the name."

See also: Flo the Electric Leech and Eddie (The Turtles).
posted by klangklangston at 9:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What we need is a new version of the old "you've reached the end of the internet" pages, but with a picture of Prince.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:04 PM on July 6, 2010


Boy, for a guy who dresses like a pirate he sure is crabby about pirates who steal shit.
posted by jcworth at 10:09 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


okay this is going to make me sound crazier than Prince but the new album actually sounds pretty good.

there are links to snippets here.

I'm not saying it's the album I've been waiting for for 22 years now, but it does sound very reminiscent of his 80s stuff.
posted by jaksoul at 4:33 AM on July 7, 2010


Speaking for a friend of mine -- an ardent Prince fan and follower -- we probably haven't heard the BEST Prince that's been produced during the past 22 years.  Any- and everybody on the Prince circuit knows that he's quietly been exploring jazz since '87, during his association with Miles.

Though 3121 was commercial, there was a wordless, sax-heavy jazz inflected album, Xpectation: New Directions in Music from Prince that came out in '03. I'd like to see him leave the human voice and any percussion with a */4-derived beat behind it and see him reinvent music.

It's been done before and by the same person more than once.

If Prince is reading this thread, I'd like to recommend that he look into a Nigerian band-leaser from the late '80s, named Fela Kuti. Him and his musical director, the drummer, Tony Allen managed to put a pretty good spin on acoustic drums back in the day. America still hasn't managed to do it any better.

He's got it in him. I know he does.
posted by vhsiv at 8:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Never could understand all the raving about this little guy. The only thing he excels at is believing he's important.

He's not.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2010


According to the Total Perspective Vortex, only Zaphod is truly important.
posted by hippybear at 3:53 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's not.

is so
posted by philip-random at 9:14 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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