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Record deals are slavery, says Prince

By | Published on Tuesday 11 August 2015


Always one to keep things in perspective, Prince has compared record deals to slavery. Though presumably his old label Warner is one of the better slave owners, given his big deal with the major last year relating to his catalogue.

Prince was chatting to NPR about his previously reported tie up with Abraham Lincoln’s, sorry, I mean, Jay-Z’s Tidal. Such alliances mean old school record deals are no longer necessary, he said. “Record contracts are just like – I’m gonna say the word – slavery” he mused. “I would tell any young artist … don’t sign”.

Good advice. Who needs a record deal? We all know that any streaming service you happen to rock up to will now provide unknown talent with a cash advance, artistic development support, extensive industry contacts, studio time, marketing and PR strategy and resource, ad spend and whatever physical and digital distribution is required. All hail Tidal et al, the new record industry.

Still, “we have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves” Prince mused on, which is true. And “once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves”, which is correct. Though most new artists don’t have their own resources, and realistically, the most a streaming service is going to provide most new artists is a leg up. Which is not be sniffed at. But it provides nothing like the benefits of full on slavery. Sorry, I mean, a full on record deal.