Prince says ‘The Internet is over.’

Prince, The Purple One himself, seems to have a band case of Notlisteningtohisfansitis.  And as a huge Prince fan myself, it’s very frustrating.

In case you haven’t heard yet, Prince is taking even more steps than usual to keep his music off the internet.
Here’s the short version:
And the original interview:

Prince has one of the most devoted fan bases in the music industry and yet he pushes them away regularly these days.  Not only is he not on iTunes or any other download sites.  Geez, even the Beatles caved finally.  Prince doesn’t even have an official website of his own.  And he’s doing everything he can to shut down fan sites that use pictures of him.

According to one of the quotes, he seems to think that the net is like MTv and will be a fad that passes.  Wrong on two accounts.  MTv was a fad because it didn’t keep up either.  Had it kept being on the forefront of music and made an effective transfer to doing it in the virtual realm, they would still be a valid communication channel.  Second, the net is much more like a record store.  And Prince is essentially trying to keep his music out of the record store.

Hmm, that sounds like bad business to me.

As much as artists get jacked on the net with trading and all, I’d rather have somebody talking about my art than nobody.  And not in the way Prince is getting press now.  He may not look his age (52), but he is acting like an out of touch old man.

His new CD 20Ten is coming out as a freebie in the The Mirror in the UK.  Coupling a dying format with a dying medium.  That’s not thinking ahead.  And his reason for giving it away in the paper?  From this article in the Mirror: He says: “It’s great to give away my music through your ­newspaper. God is a generous and loving being. It is written that we should act like God. There are enough opportunities.”

That’s nice…. really.  But I’m sure he also got a big payday from the paper like last time.  AND, if giving it away is what God wants, why not do it on the net where it can reach an even larger audience? Because internet companies don’t give advances, that’s why.

With all that said, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of his new album.  I have hope upon hope that it will be better than his last few.  His last 10 years just haven’t been up to snuff.  And that hurts the cred too, no matter how famous you are.  An album is a snapshot of where the artist is right now.  And Prince has sounded like he’s been in his sheltered world a little too long.  And don’t get me started on the religion thing.

Prince is an old school rock star.  Set in his ways, just like anyone else at that age.  The public image of a rock star is considerably different now.  Still part mystery and part public, but the proportions have to be all different now.  Too much mystery and people stop caring.  Can he turn it around?  Who knows?  Maybe someone should slip a new chapter into his bible.

BUT… Then I see this article from Business Week: Could Prince be right?  Not only are CD sales not growing, but now downloads are taking a hit too.  As are ringtones.  But did anyone really think that would be a lasting market?

Why are downloads down?  Two reasons.  New streaming services are making it easier to not collect music, but just save the links in a library.  Even I’m a member of MOG and it’s a great service.  I find lots of new stuff and love to experiment with new music on there.  Especially since sites like this are starting to have phone apps, you’ll be able to listen anywhere you want soon.

But also, entertainment is a lagging indicator of a down economy.  It’s one of the last things people reduce their spending on.  And I’ve seen it at live shows as well.  Smaller crowds, fewer merchandise sales.  So people are not buying downloads as much. I’m willing to bet that actual consumption isn’t down.

What to make of it all?  Who knows… The internet sure isn’t going anywhere.  Though it’s a constantly changing beast as always.  Live entertainment isn’t going anywhere.  I don’t care how good the webcast is, it’s not the same as being there.  But there’s no shortage of recordings.  And in the world of supply and demand, that makes music a commodity.  So there’s got to be something else there…

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