When Doves Whine

Early last week, I saw the now-famous Prince story roll through my Twitter stream. During a rare interview – this one with the UK’s Daily Mirror – his royal purpleness dropped his theories on the world:


“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 At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.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."

It’s official: Prince has become the old guy at the club. It’s a good thing he’s got maximum security around his 70,000 square foot Paisley Park complex in Minneapolis, or he’d definitely yell at the kids to get off his lawn. Oh, where to begin…

First off, listening to Prince bitch about the state of the music industry is like Warren Buffett complaining about Food Stamps – nice theoretical conversation, but not based in reality AT ALL. I’ve got a lot more pain in my heart for a 22-year-old trying to figure out how to scrape up the cash to dup 50 copies of their first EP. Today’s artists have already turned the proverbial corner on digital music, and understand the standard ways to bank (tour, merch, fan clubs, etc.) – with the best of them inking TV and commercial licensing deals. I’ll concede the industry is still whacked, but guess what: great talent still finds a way to break through and make money. Witness Jay-Z, John Mayer or Sugarland to name just a few. Hell, I own Purple Rain on DVD so I don’t wanna hear Prince complain…

Secondly, remind me how you help yourself by keeping your artistic creation out of the hands of your fans. Even if you don’t need the money, at least show some respect to those who enabled your current existence by buying your first 20 albums. (I’d bet the royalty streams are still pretty healthy – even from the deep catalog stuff.) Can you really be so successful (and rich) that you eventually believe that creating music is some type of ordained act? His thinly veiled point was he deserves millions of dollars to merely create the music – I guess he’s thinking an old school record company advance? Or a big fat check from a tabloid newspaper. I guess either one gets you paid upfront – which feels like a punk move for someone of his talent and fan base.

And clearly, I think you could make a pretty strong case that the ‘digital gadgets’ Prince blasts have done more to fill heads with music than with numbers. I normally don’t listen to spreadsheets on my iPhone, but my MacBook Pro does have that whole text-to-speech thingy I’ve never turned on. And the other artistic endeavors powered by ‘computers’ include music itself, digital photography, video production and about 50 more really cool innovations. So there you go Prince, take my money for 20 years and then whine when technology provides a way for me to carry it with me everyday. That seems like a winner of an argument.

So why does someone take a position like this? It’s easy: they’ve been so successful for so long, there’s no one in the entourage to keep him in check. And with that much cash and an odd streak to begin with, bingo: you got another Michael Jackson – rich as hell, surrounded by support staff whose income depends on whether they agree, and with no sense of the real world. It’s the exact same scenario with a LeBron James or any other star athlete. They’ve been worshipped since middle school, and there’s a point where you start believing your own PR. You always win, you never get caught, your people can make anything go away.  We only ever hear the stories when the system breaks down…

But here’s why I care: because Prince is an absolute beast of a musician and will go down in history as a leading voice of our time. For me, Prince is like Joe Cocker: I only want to listen to their music. I don’t want to watch Joe Cocker sing, and I don’t want to hear Prince talk. I beg you, o’ paisley’d one, please let your electric guitar do your talking. Enjoy what I would consider one of the Top 5 guitar solos of all-time (fast-forward to 3:30 if for some unknown reason you're not a Beatles or Tom Petty fan):

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0 # Feb0zdou1 2010-07-13 18:52
You sized him up exactly. Brilliant musician, though. I'll bet Ringo Starr at 70 is more grounded than Prince is at 52. Speaking of older musicians still on their game, we saw Paul Simon at Chastain Park a couple of summers ago and he is better than ever, IMHO. His band was simply amazing, too. Gotta respect someone who keeps touring, apparently for the love of his craft...
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