Prince’s career-long battle against record label autocracy and championing of artists’ right to be paid is exactly why you can’t find any of his music online be interested to hear today.”>
When a music icon dies, we grieve with headphones on.
The first stop: Twitter, where we publicly unload our hashtag #sadness. The next stop is more private, most intimate: the playlists in which we revisit their music, mourn to their hits, and groove to their legacy.
Its perhaps Princes greatest legacy that merely thatlistening to his music in the aftershock of his sudden death Thursday at the age of 57 is so damn hard to do.
When Doves Cry is not on Spotify. Kiss is not on Apple Music. Purple Rain is not on his official station on YouTube or Vevo, because he does not have an official station on YouTube or Vevoat least not one that hosts his epic catalog of music and videos.
Last summer, in what would be his final middle thumb to an exploitative record industry and last act of badassery in a career devoted to championing artists rights, Prince withdrew his music from all streaming services except for Tidal.
One month before vacuuming his content from those free services, Prince retweeted an article from The Daily Beast that championed Taylor Swifts stand against Apple Music because of the services initial policy of not paying artists for streams during customers free trials.
In his tweet, Prince took a stand against Spotify, quoting the line, Spotify is co-owned by record labels, who hold 20 percent of the companys stocks.
These werent acts of an aging rock superstar who refused to get with the times. In fact, Prince demonstrated willing to embrace streaming services, even releasing his last album exclusively on Tidal and singing the praises of Jay Zs brainchild. They wereand remaininfluential decisions by an influential icon, an icon who merely happens to think that artists should be paid for their music.
I dont insure why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else, he said. They wont paid in full an advance for it and then they get angry when they cant get it.
In an interview the following year, he told The Guardian , We constructed money[ online] before piracy was real crazy. Nobodys making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google. Im supposed to go to the White House to talk about copyright protection. Its like the gold rush out there. Or a carjacking. Theres no borders.
His opinions on digital music evolved, of coursehe had previously denounced itbecause evolving is what artists do and what Prince did better anyone. But evolving doesnt mean caving. For Prince, that means not caving on a stance hes spent his career supporting.
In 1993, Prince went to war with his record label, Warner Bros. The label was offering him a lucrative contract in exchange for control over masters of his early run and how he releases new material.
He scratched the word SLAVE on his cheek for public appearances, and wouldnt set his name on the run. The unintelligible emblem he went by and the Artist Formerly Known As moniker is a operating pop culture joke now, but it was a bold political act then against a label that was trying to set a cap on his output.
He celebrated the end of his relationship with Warner Bros. with a triple CD not-so-subtly called Emancipation .
A lot of people didnt know what I was doing, but it helped some people, Prince has since said about the time. I dont look at it as Us versus Them. I did. But you know The Wizard of Oz ? When they pull back the drapery and insure whats going on? Thats whats passed?
Decades later, Prince was still pulling back the drapery. Thats exactly what he did when he removed his music from streaming services. He was Dorothy before Taylor Swift, who repaved the yellow brick road for up-and-coming musicians when she stood up to Apple Music.
Asked about that pronouncement of the Internets death again in 2015, Prince explained his evolution. What I meant was that the Internet was over for anyone who wants to get paid, and I was right about that, he told The Guardian . Tell me a musician whos get rich off digital sales. Apples doing pretty good though, right?
Princes backing of Tidal was deliberate. For all the flak the service has gotten from potential subscribers, he supported its pledge to pay artists for their contents. On the working day of his death, its the only subscription streaming service on which fans can listen to his music.
You want to support his revolution? Maybe today you should pay for his music.
Read more: www.thedailybeast.com