When it comes to music industry norms, Prince has always been known to take the road less traveled. Lately, he’s encouraging newer artists to do the same.
His Purple Majesty invited attendees, including The Huffington Post, at this year’s National Association of Black Journalist convention to his estate in Minneapolis this weekend — asking them to leave their phones and recording devices behind. This was the first time the reclusive artist actually invited a group of about 900 media professionals to his estate, filled with decals of the unpronounceable logo he goes by.
Though many expected a performance, Prince leveraged the moment to announce his new album, HitNRun. He turned the dance party into a short listening party, playing two of his new songs. He told the crowd HitNRun will be released on Tidal, a subscription-based music streaming service that provides more royalties for the artist than other streaming services, on Sept. 7. He urged the crowd to support the platform.
“Record contracts are just like — I’m gonna say the word — slavery,” Prince told a small group of reporters — who weren’t allowed to take notes — at a separate meeting at Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis. “I would tell any young artist … don’t sign.”
Though HuffPost was not at the meeting at Paisley Park Studios. NPR’s Eric Deggans wrote that Prince told reporters that typical record company contracts give artists little freedom over how their music is used, especially with third-party streaming services. It’s clear the seven-time Grammy award winner, who asked all streaming services to remove his music earlier this year, wants to make a change.
“Once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves,” he said, according to NPR. “Jay Z spent $100 million of his own money to build his own service. We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”
At the meeting, Prince emphasized that streaming services should pay artists directly for using their music, not the record companies.
“I sat down with Jay, and I really like what he is doing,” he said, according to Bryan Monroe for The Root. “He’s trying to eventually be a one-stop shop for the artist.”
This isn’t the first time Prince has had issues with the industry. His controversy with record labels controlling artists’ music seems to be never-ending, noting that he didn’t even get his fair share with the success of Purple Rain, Kelley Carter of Buzzfeed noted. Alas, he’s hoping some of the power will be back in the musicians’ hands.
“You just have to blow it up. That’s what it’s going to take,” he said.