With the majority of new artists failing to achieve recognition, throwing the towel in after disappointing sales and failing to maintain their market share, a policy of blame culture is the going rate amongst bands and musicians. Having worked in the industry for more than 15 years now, rest assured that it is always a case of somebody else’s fault, be it the record company, the promoter, the manager or the guitarist's girlfriend. Without taking sides in this article, it is worth while taking a look at an artist who has always managed to take matters in his own hands: Prince!
In 1992, at the height of his career, Prince had the guts to disconnect himself from his major record label and decided to continue on his own. With no major backing, no supportive hit singles and completely out of the industry machinery, Prince still managed to be the highest earner in 2004, sold out 21 nights in the London O2 arena in 2007 within seconds and just recently had a No.2 Album entry in the US Billboard charts.
1. Prince Works
Despite his continues stream of songwriting, producing and releasing his own records, Prince constantly re-invents himself as time demands. He always plays live, experiments with his catalogue including new band set-ups, involves musicians and simply lives and breathes his music. By doing this, he has become one of the most fascinating musicians and live performer with a soverenity second to none. His work is not set, scheduled or in any other way determined by the usual release policies and routines dictated by the Record Company but simply out of his own desire to keep his music alive and exciting without any hang ups.
2. Being The Industry - Being A Marketing Genius
Bands/Musicians these days have two choices. One is the devil called Record Company, the other one is the saint called Internet. It is the devil they hate and the saint they don't understand. As a result, bands tend to sleep with different devils hoping the new one might be the lesser evil and, at the same time, praying that "doing a bit on the Internet" will, maybe one day, bring some ease to their continuous struggle. So what did Prince do already 15 years ago? He dumped the devil and became his own industry. Secondly, he embraced the then still very underdeveloped medium called the Internet. This was not done overnight, required incredible self-discipline and willingness to create his own, fully functional set-up, all on top of his 24/7 workload.
Prince's music was then primarily released through his Internet subscription service NPGOnline. Sales suffered and he "disappeared" but he never lost his presence. In addition, his independence turned him into a marketing genius always thinking outside the box, always surprising the punters with his extravagant shows and musical explorations such as his appearance at the great Monteux Jazz Festival or his legendary exclusive Las Vegas appearances. His free give-away of the Planet Earth Album via a UK Newspaper caused controversy but was the perfect promotion for his 21 Nights UK Tour. His persistent and successful crack down unauthorised usage of images, music and videos on the Internet is another way of "keeping up your price". His new Album was a direct deal with US Retailers including Target. It worked. Previous Albums were based on marketing-distribution deals with major distributors, always keeping the full rights to his work.
3. The Art of Giving - Prince Live
Prince's legendary Live performances and excessive aftershows made him the most bootlegged musician of all times. However, seeing him on stage makes one realise how different his live performances are from the rest of today’s top acts.
Prince does not perform because the industry routine demands it. Prince performs because he loves to share with the audience his gift of being an outstanding musician and performer with a repertoire to die for. Prince masters every trick in the book of playing live, he loves to deliver an explosive musical experience without compromise (no pyrotechnics needed). A man who plays for two hours in front of a stadium audience and then returns 2 hours later in a club playing a 3 hour show in front of 200 people with an always changing set clearly loves what he does. Having reached the age of 50 now, nothing has changed. In fact, it seemed that he is better than ever.
Although his recent devotion towards the Jehovah Witness believe system has raised some eyebrows, he certainly lives according to one rule: "God helps those who help themselves"