April 3, 2001 9:25 AM   Subscribe

The-Artist-Once-Again-Known-As-Prince debuts his new single on Napster - The Work - Pt. 1, which is the first track from Prince's new album, The Rainbow Children will be available on Friday. Prince has worked without a major label contract since 1994 after a contract dispute with Warner Music.
posted by radio_mookie (10 comments total)
Truly a revolutionary... pretty sexy too
posted by Dix Huit at 11:24 AM on April 3, 2001

The most interesting thing about his subscription service (I'm a member, don't laugh...) is the radio show. See, he offers unreleased tracks and live tracks and new videos and all that exciting stuff, but the cool part is a radio show where he features his own past music, goofy skits with the few people in his life who still speak to him, and a wide variety of tracks from other artists.

Perhaps just as revolutionary, from a MeFi perspective, is that he has a blog, of sorts, on his site. A nice complement to the great fan site at, which is unfortunately a terrific website frequented by bizarro obsessed fans.

Unfortunately, the erstwhile point of of all this, his music, remains as erratic as it has been for the past 10 years or so. Still some gems, though...
posted by anildash at 11:31 AM on April 3, 2001

I'm not a big fan of his music, but I respect his talent. He hits the nail on the head in this article when he suggests that the big labels have a stranglehold on both supply and demand, since they have de facto control of the airwaves. Hopefully, when the new system is created artists will gain at least some control.
posted by gimli at 11:44 AM on April 3, 2001

Prince is crazy. I appreciate his sentiment, but without the money of the "evil major labels", nobody would know who the hell he was to begin with and he'd just be another wannabe pop star on taking his art way too seriously.

Of course Prince can do it on his own now, he's got the fame and the money. He's transcended needing the major labels to keep his name in the headlines. But unknown artists trying to get their tracks heard don't have that tremendous advantage.

Musicians in particular seem to forget the enormous amount of money it takes to get a track into the ears of millions of teenagers.

Hundreds of people put their music on web sites every day and Spin magazine pays no attention to them, yet they're more than happy to write up a story about Prince's. And the evil major labels are what made the difference. Sad but true.
posted by frenetic at 12:58 PM on April 3, 2001

frenetic, isn't that precisely what puts prince into a position to maybe say something about it? just because something is The Status Quo, does that mean that we should shrug and say "sad but true" about it?
posted by pikachulolita at 1:20 PM on April 3, 2001

You're both right. I used to love radio for the randomness and the chance to hear new stuff. Corporate rock and industry consolidation ruined it. Thankfully, now we have internet radio. I hope to have it in my car within a few years (fingers crossed as I pray for wireless high-bandwidth).
posted by gimli at 2:19 PM on April 3, 2001

Why wait? Satellite radio will be here in a couple of months.

Frenetic's right: Without the record companies, Prince would still be a nobody. I'm no fan of corporate rock at all, but it's a sad fact that nobody's yet come up with a way for you to stay independent and still have any real chance of getting the masses to hear your music. Whoever can pull this trick off will become rich. And probably start his own record company. Which will eventually merge with AOL Time Warner.
posted by aaron at 4:20 PM on April 3, 2001

frenetic, isn't that precisely what puts prince into a position to maybe say something about it? just because something is The Status Quo, does that mean that we should shrug and say "sad but true" about it?

Sure, but Prince saying "you don't need major labels", when obviously he *really* needed major labels to get where he is today is just stupid and isn't helping anybody.

You know, let's say I've got my 100% guaranteed hit track that I wrote and I put up on Who's going to care? Spin's not going to do a write up on my song. Nobody's going to show up at my press conference, let alone air bits of it on CNN. Radio stations aren't going to play it. MTV's not going to put my video into heavy rotation. And record stores aren't going to burn and sell my CD for me. I have to promote and distribute it. Promotion and distribution cost a LOT of money. Where do I get the money from? I'm just a starving musician idiot over here. I either need a major label or some sort of extremely wealthy and kind and patient benefactor.

I'd be happier with Prince if he'd instead be realistic and practical and say, "Okay, what you need to do, kids, is get in with the majors, don't sign a long term deal -- don't rope yourself in -- then use their money and resources to rocket you to international stardom. Then get the hell out and do the rest on your own. Use 'em and lose 'em."
posted by frenetic at 11:03 AM on April 4, 2001

Now if Prince started taking submissions from bands, selecting the ones he likes the best, and putting them up on his Web site to promote them, maybe then the up and coming bands wouldn't really need record companies.
posted by kindall at 11:43 AM on April 4, 2001

Kindall, Prince has been doing that to an extent. But it's largely been with past-their-prime R&B acts like Chaka Khan and Larry Graham.

He's also talked about doing more in the vein of Ani Difranco, who did get successful and start a record label without the majors, and then used it to promote great artists (and major-label refugees) like Arto Lindsay. Unfortunately, Prince's track record shows that he tends to favor crappy "artists" and his ex-girlfriends for his vanity label.
posted by anildash at 3:38 PM on April 4, 2001

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