Two days after Prince announced that he would release his new album HitNRun exclusively to Tidal, the singer revealed the reason he is sidestepping a record label and offering the LP directly through Jay Z’s streaming service. “Record contracts are just like — I’m gonna say the word – slavery,” Prince said. “I would tell any young artist… don’t sign.”
Speaking to a small group of reporters from the National Association of Black Journalists Saturday at his Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis, Prince expressed concerns over the future of the music business, NPR reports. He also voiced his disapproval about how record labels turn artists into “indentured servitude,” since the artists have little control or insight over how labels take their music and profit off it online, a claim David Byrne similarly laid against the major labels.
“Once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves,” Prince said of why he chose to team with Tidal. “Jay Z spent $100 million of his own money to build his own service. We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Prince also debuted a pair of tracks from his September 7th-bound HitNRun, reportedly titled “Love Control” and “Shut This Down.” Those tracks join the previously released first single “Hardrocklover.” Prince also told the Paisley Park crowd that HitNRun would be released physically at some point.
This isn’t the first time Prince has compared the music industry to slavery. In 1993, when Prince and Warner Bros. were warring over his record contract, the rocker frequently appeared in public and onstage with “slave” scrawled on his cheek. Prince would soon change his name to “the Artist Formerly Known As” and “the Love Symbol” in an effort to “emancipate” himself “from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros.” Prince and the label later reconciled for 2014’s Art Official Age.
As fractious Prince’s relationship with record labels have been, his dealings with the Internet have been even more contentious. In 2007, Prince called upon the Web Sheriff to strip all images, videos and torrents involving the rocker off the web. That same year, Prince feuded with his own fansites over the use of his image, which resulted in a diss track called “PFUnk.” More recently, Prince pulled all his music off streaming services before aligning with Tidal and deleted his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
It is not just the record labels that Prince has issues with: He also called out Clear Channel for the homogenization of FM radio.