The death of a true legend always comes suddenly and hits the world hard. Today we lost one of the most gifted men in music, Prince Rogers Nelson AKA Prince. He had a career like no other that spanned across music, movies, and social activism. As a child of the 80’s, Prince and Michael Jackson dominated the airwaves and the musical consciousness my time. Prince (like Jackson) was one of few black artist whose music transcended the classification and racial barriers of that day. Purple Rain is still considered the standard for music based films 30 plus years after its initial release.
Prince, while well-known for his music is probably even more well known for his very public battles over the rights of artists and their ownership of the music. His battles with label Warner Brothers found him referring to himself as their slave for he (and other artists) received from the label for the music that they created. He was one of the first major artists to bypass the major labels and to work directly with retailers to sell his music. Prince’s battles and milestones set the foundation for the business model that many artist and independent labels still utilize today.
In recent years Prince had become a staunch critic of how music was available digitally and how the artists didn’t reap the rewards from this new era of music consumption. As a result much of his music can’t be found online. Try to find official versions of Prince’s older music on Youtube, you won’t find it. Try to find his on any streaming service, you won’t find it unless you subscribe to Tidal.
Prince wasn’t just an artist of a generation, he was the artist of the generation who helped to transform the music business into a platform that befitted the artists not the labels. While the system isn’t totally changed, it can be argued that many of the major independent labels of the past 20 years would not have come to be if it wasn’t for Prince’s trailblazing. Prince is a pioneer whose legend and music will continue to be used as a textbook for artists for generations to come.