In a cane-shaking, “get off my lawn, kids” moment, the eclectic musicmaker Prince said in an interview with the Daily Mirror that he doesn’t see the internet as being relevant today for musicians.
He said,”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.” Prince is the anti-Radiohead.
Instead of embracing web culture, Prince instead intends to reject it by finding a different mode of delivering his music—and apparently that medium is newspapers and magazines. Prince intends to give out copies of his new record 20ten in the July issue of The Mirror and has made distribution deals with Rolling Stone Germany and other European newspapers.
He continues, “The Internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.”
With Twitter having over 100 million users worldwide, Facebook having 400 million and even more people using the internet each day, Prince may be off the mark in calling this as a passing fad.
We can fight it all we want with our love of retro—that adage “vinyl sounds better”may in fact be true, but if musicians want to stay relevant, even someone with clout like Prince, it’s nearly impossible to do so by eschewing the internet.
Prince could opt for a pay-what-you-want model like Radiohead did with In Rainbows. But instead he pushes his career toward irrelevance, saying “These computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”
The old model that worked so well in the 80s and 90s is over. It’s something that musicians have to cope with—as do real estate agents (see craigslist.com) and travel agents (see kayak.com). The days of the big advance check and the guaranteed royalties may be gone forever. It’s time to reinvent what works. Which is why we’re excited for Google music to roll out next year.
Radiohead’s new record is set to release later this year. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of method they choose to distribute it. Whatever the channel, it probably won’t be inserted into newspapers. The reality is that the times they have a-changed, and musicians, both budding ones and vets like Prince, need to recognize this, or risk losing their fan bases and, subsequently, their careers.