By MATHEW INGRAM
Monday, June 30, 2008
Not that long ago, the artist known as Prince seemed to be happy experimenting with new music business models - setting up a subscription service for fans to get his new music online, and then last year giving away a new CD with copies of a British newspaper (The Mail on Sunday). But something seems to have changed in the past year or so, because his Purpleness has been engaging in a digital crackdown in all sorts of ways.
In the most egregious example of his newfound dislike of anything Internet-related, the artist formerly known as an unpronounceable symbol forced YouTube to remove a home video clip of a young child dancing, because a few minutes of one of his songs could be heard in the background. In another case, his lawyers ordered fan sites to remove cover art they were using as part of an online tribute to the recording star.
In the latest example of his take-no-prisoners approach, Prince found out about a special cover-song tribute collection that a group of Norwegian musicians had put together in honour of the artist's 50th birthday. He sent a threatening legal letter to the organizer of the tribute, ordering that all copies of the cover-song collection be destroyed or a lawsuit would be filed.
The project was the brainchild of Christer Falck, a Norwegian record-label owner and television star, who asked 50 prominent musicians to pick their favourite Prince song and do a cover version. He then made just 5,000 copies of the resulting five-disc special boxed set and distributed them around the world, a venture for which, according to a Norwegian newspaper report, he made no money whatsoever.
Prince's management found out about the project, the report says, only because Falck got in touch with the artist to present him with a complimentary copy of the tribute.
What's next? Sending legal notices to fans because someone heard them humming When Doves Cry in the shower at the gym?