Not Down With Prince

A couple of weeks ago I had a hankering for watching a Prince music video. I didn’t really care which one it was as long as it was from the 80s. When I searched for any on YouTube, I barely got any hits and when I clicked on one for When Doves Cry, the video played without sound. I was puzzled, tried a different video, and got the same result: a muted music video. Finally scrolling down to the comments area, I discovered that all Prince videos on YouTube wouldn’t have sound because the Artist himself was trying to “reclaim the Internet.” This meant he was attacking any and all “illegal” uses of his property, including both his music and videos. For some reason, I hadn’t been aware of this controversy at all for the past couple of years.

According to stories from a year ago, Prince hired a British-based company called Web Sheriff to hunt down those who were using his material in a pirately fashion. They’ve gone after sites like YouTube, Ebay and Pirate Bay on his behalf. It’s actually quite fitting that a prince should be attempting to suppress pirates with a sheriff. The problem being that Prince is yet another in the long line of people misunderstanding the Internet and its potential for the future of music and promotion. I know I keep coming back to this issue on this blog, but it’s something I feel quite passionate about.

I can fully understand not wanting your copyrighted work to be sold as pirated copies via Ebay (although I’ve never come across any pirated music except for bootleg concerts) or to be distributed free via torrents, but uploading Prince’s music videos or using his songs in YouTube video clips isn’t pirating in the same way. YouTube is often the only place people can view what they want on demand – before the giant Mighty Boosh purge a year ago, I was first introduced to the series via YouTube. How else was I to watch a series that is only broadcast on foreign networks and can only be purchased in a different region code? And because of the exposure on YouTube, I ended up becoming a huge fan, buying all three series and the live DVD in Region 2, and then buying a DVD player that could play them. Not to mention BBC iPlayers don’t work for anyone outside the UK, which has forced me to find alternate, seemingly “illegal,” ways to watch documentaries or series that I can’t find any other way. The BBC has been particularly ornery when it comes to watching their content; not only have they had tons of clips removed from YouTube, but they don’t allow foreign viewers to watch their clips via YouTube unless they’re posted to the BBC Worldwide account. A completely counterproductive tactic. If those at BBC were on the ball, they could see YouTube as a marketing measurement tool. The more people trying to watch a particular show or series from other parts of the world, the more they could potentially market their product there by releasing on an appropriate format.

And when I want to see a music video, I won’t be sat in front of the television waiting for a Prince music video to pop up on the music video channel. Hell would be having a toboggan party before I would see a music video from anybody on music television. YouTube has transformed the music video industry in that any artist with any budget can get exposure without television executives, advertisers and programmers getting in the way. The fans who are posting Prince music videos are not personally profitting from them – they are merely providing a service to other Prince fans. The greed is not coming from them, it’s from Prince himself. It’s a shame that someone who has had such a visionary career in music can’t see the future this time. It’s also rather ironic because Prince apparently received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 because he was the first artist to release an entire album exclusively on the Internet. Of course this isn’t hugely surprising for someone as conflicted as Prince is.

All Prince has succeeded in doing is creating a backlash akin to ones both Madonna and Metallica have experienced. Several videos like the one above are protesting Prince’s actions, and Prince fan sites banded together as Prince Fans United to take on the legal take-down requests. Despite this, Prince has continued the crusade, including taking down all fan footage of his cover of Radiohead’s Creep at Coachella this year. However, just as Prince has said, you take down one and hundreds more crop up the next day – I managed to watch the Creep cover here (aside from blistering guitar solos, not too much to be excited about). Fighting the proliferation and nature of the Internet is a losing battle, and any victory is a pyrrhic one. As Radiohead has proven, established artists can both continue their success and work within the new framework of technology and music distribution. And with someone like Prince, whose live performances and music videos have been intrinsic to his success, allowing footage of him (which would have been public in the first place) to circulate would only benefit him, especially at this later stage of his career.

I’ve been a Prince fan since I was a teenager, but this hasn’t been the first time I’ve felt burnt by him. Six years ago, Prince came to Winnipeg, but tickets were well over $100 a piece, so I, being a financially-challenged student, didn’t go to the show along with many others who viewed the price tag as exorbitant. I then found out that he performed a much cheaper aftershow at a small venue, but it was too late. The fact I only just found out about this more recent controversy probably says something about how much I’ve been following Prince these days. Apparently I’m just as out of the loop as Prince is – we’re both still caught up in the good old days from 20 years ago.

Sign O’ The Times – Prince

Creep (Live at Coachella) – Prince

4 Responses to “Not Down With Prince”

  1. 1 Ramon
    November 23, 2008 at 5:42 am

    After Prince’s most recent delusional ravings (this time, against gay marriages), I finally did a search for all Prince tracks on my iTunes library, and hit the delete all key.

    The funny thing is, it actually felt good, and very liberating. I had been an early Prince fan, and followed him through all his artistic idiosyncracies, but for too long I’ve been very dissatisfied with not just his music, but also his persona, which has always been egotistical, but has evolved to be mean-spirited and ugly.

    Good riddance.

  2. 2 IMI
    December 1, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Well written post and it describes the lunacy perfectly. If the ‘copy-right loyalists’ had their way, well… the internet would become like radio did; “Play our stuff or nothing”. We’d be living on a steady diet of Brittney, Nickleback, and Prince wouldn’t have a chance without a label.

    The music industry has never been healthier. UTube is the new radio. There is more competition for entertainment dollars than ever. I can see why major labels, studios and their respective trade associations are combating media on the net because they want payment or silence. Even out-of-print and independents pose a threat to them when they can’t compete against genuine creative talent.

    But Prince? Issuing take down requests just tells the world he doesn’t believe in his material and it’s not able to stand against the competition.

    I never saw the videos you mentioned and I’m not likely to now. Before, if you would have embedded them, I probably would have watched and may have become interested. We’ll never know now.

    What is that called? (one guess)

  3. 3 JC
    December 13, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Excellent analysis…as ever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Hype Machine
mp3 blogs
Add to Technorati Favorites

Blog Stats

  • 449,038 hits

Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome

%d bloggers like this: