On Sunday July 11, the artist
formerly known as
currently known as Prince will release his new album, 20TEN in the UK. Prince agreed to be interviewed by the Daily Mirror, where he explained why his new album would only be released via CD, with no accompanying launch online, no partnership with iTunes or Amazon, and no digital downloads.
Prince starts off by explaining how he "really believes in finding new ways to distribute my [his] music." Then he drops a bombshell.
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 At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.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.
We'll pause a moment to let that sink in, with additional commentary from Jean-Luc Picard.
The Artist Who's Currently Confused
It's ironic that Prince, an entertainer who has lived through the rise and fall of several musical storage formats (8-tracks, LPs, cassette tapes, and now CDs) would label the Internet a 'fad.' His judgment appears to have been heavily impacted by what we can only term wishful thinking. Prince has a reputation for unfriendliness where the Internet is concerned—in the past, he's sued fans for tribute websites, took down his own official site, and refuses to allow so much as a 1980s bad hair day to be shown via YouTube.
It's ironic that a man who considers himself a trendsetter in music distribution views the Internet as nothing more than a fad, and it suggests Prince holds certain views music industry executives would agree with—if this was 1998. Clearly, Prince doesn't have a problem with giving copies of his music away, and there's little to suggest he's hurting for money. More than anything, this appears to be a fight for control regarding how his image, videos, and music are viewed and interpreted.
Prince's reference to MTV may be more apt than he realizes. MTV's broadcast schedule is dominated by reality shows, but music videos—generally unheard of in 1980—continue to be a huge part of an artist's sale strategy and creative expression. An entire generation of youth has grown up, mated, and whelped its own spawn. The Cold War ended. It's nine years after 9/11, the US elected a black president, and Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC. Despite all these cultural changes, music video remains relevant. The fact that it's now distributed via YouTube as well as TV is, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant.
Come on, Chip. Ignore the fact that I look like a fat, white version of Barret from FFVII. Those microwave ovens won't move themselves.
We're fairly confident that Prince is wrong about the Internet being a fad, either as a platform for music distribution or as...well, itself. As for the dangers of digital gadgets, we submit that unless you happen to be attending a live concert with The Artist on acoustical guitar, the sound is being digitized. Since music couldn't exist without math, and math involves lots of numbers, listening to music seems to be a pretty good idea.