Millions of fans will remember Prince as a master of funk, the creator of indelible hits like “1999” and “When Doves Cry.”
But within the music business, Prince — who died on Thursday at 57 — was also a trailblazing and sometimes controversial champion for his rights as an artist. In the 1990s he was in open conflict with the music industry, protesting the major-label system by writing the word “slave” on his cheek and changing his name to an unpronounceable glyph.
Later, as the music world moved online, Prince made sometimes mystifying pronouncements about the Internet, and policed his music rights so carefully that most of his songs were unavailable not only on jukebox streaming services like Spotify but also on Pandora and YouTube.
His moves were sometimes mocked as mere eccentricity. But he is now seen as an early advocate of the kind of experimentation and artistic control that has become an essential tool of the most forward-thinking pop stars.
“If you want to see his influence, all you have to do is look at what’s happening today, where you have Kanye West releasing an album on different platforms and adding to it as he goes along, or Drake saying, ‘You know what, I’ve got a new record and I’m just going to drop it,’” said Jimmy Jam, the producer who was a longtime associate of Prince, and a former chairman of the Recording Academy, the organization that presents the Grammy Awards.
Source: New York Times