The world was stunned when it was announced that iconic musical genius Prince died on Thursday. The superstar, whose full name is Prince Rogers Nelson, was only 57. Even if you weren’t well-versed in his music, you knew who he was, and maybe you want to go through his catalog now. When David Bowie died earlier this year, I went online and streamed some of his songs that I hadn’t been familiar with, so I could hear what I had been missing. Unfortunately for people who want to do the same for Prince, that isn’t an option.
The legendary singer and musician was extremely protective over his work where the internet was concerned, and took copyright law very seriously. He owned all of the music he made since leaving Warner Bros. in 1996, releasing it either through his own label or website, or licensing to other labels. It’s next to impossible to find videos of his performances online, as Prince’s legal team sends takedown notices under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. A mother ended up going to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in September, after Universal Music Corp. sent a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube over a video of the woman’s son dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” (the court understandably sided with the woman, saying that fair use should be taken into consideration before people send takedown notices).
The only videos I’ve seen on YouTube of Prince performing are a black and white recording of a 1982 concert in Passaic, NJ (posted by a company that acquired it from Clear Channel, who owned the concert promoter’s archive), and a performance at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show (owned by the Hall of Fame), that features a mind-blowing guitar solo in an all-star cover of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
Last year, Prince removed his music from all streaming services, except for TIDAL, which requires users to pay for access. His songs are also available for purchase on iTunes. Back in 2001, Prince had his own NPG Music Club, an online subscription service that offered new songs and other perks to users for a monthly or yearly fee. It closed in 2006, perhaps a result of the artist being ahead of his time. He always was.
[Image via Anthony Correia/Shutterstock]