Given he’s the person responsible for 1999, a song about doomsday, written in 1982, that still sounds futuristic in 2024, Prince was renowned for always having one eye on tomorrow. As such, when the internet came around and how people made, recorded, and distributed music changed, the icon certainly had something to say about it.
For the most part, Prince was against the idea of streaming sites. He took their craft very seriously, and by putting it on streaming sites for the money they were offering, he felt he would be undermined for his work. To be fair to him, the amount that streaming sites pay artists is still under contention, with artists like Weird Al calling out Spotify’s rates in his recent Wrapped video.
His complicated relationship would continue throughout his career, often resulting in him refusing to put his music on streaming sites and getting frustrated whenever people tried to put videos of him performing live online. He notoriously fell out with Radiohead for that exact reason, as when he covered ‘Creep’ and then blocked any videos uploaded of the performance, Thom Yorke and co thought it was Prince trying to pull rank over them.
“Really? He’s blocked it?” said Yorke, “Surely, we should block it. Hang on a moment… well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our… song.”
His discontent towards the online world went so far as to result in him announcing the days of the internet being “over”. In an interview in 2010, he said, “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. I really believe in finding new ways to distribute my music.”
The singer continued, “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 At one time, MTV was hip, and suddenly, it became outdated.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.”
Prince was right about a lot throughout his career, but unfortunately, his prediction about the end of the internet didn’t quite come to fruition. Arguments surrounding how ethical streaming sites function are still in contention, but so many people now listen to music via the internet; if artists want to get their sound out there, then they need to make it accessible on streaming sites.
In essence, Prince was still ahead of the curve when it came to his views, as they are widely shared and repeated throughout the music industry today, but the power that those views had is where his prediction fell slightly flat. It was likely his mindset that if enough musicians decided to distribute differently, things might change; unfortunately, this hasn’t, and probably never will, happen.
Tyler Fields is your internet guru, delving into the latest trends, developments, and issues shaping the online world. With a focus on internet culture, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies, Tyler keeps readers informed about the dynamic landscape of the internet and its impact on our digital lives.