Prince and the internet Revolution

Surely you’ve heard about it by now, the interview that has the entire internet LOLing, or at least scratching their heads. The Artist Now Known as Prince Again recently declared the death of the internet to the UK’s Daily Mirror by stating, “The internet’s completely over.”

Let me pause and give you a chance to catch your breath. Surely, surely this has to be some kind of marketing stunt. After all, the ‘dead’ internet lit up like a tree on Christmas the second his comments were published… on the internet. Prince even admits in the interview that “I really believe in new ways to distribute my music,” even if “new” means releasing it on a dwindling medium (CDs) through an aging distribution channel (newspapers).

It’s not his fault. Prince is known for being one of the most eccentric musicians of our time. He’s spent the better part of his life as a sex symbol, isolated from society by layers and layers of managers, producers and other members of his entourage. His convoluted worldview is apparent with asinine statements in the interview like “The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

Okay… let’s take a look at the numbers.

  • On the same day the Prince interview was published online, Variety reported that physical album sales dropped 17.7% and digital album sales rose 13.7% during the first 6 months of 2010.
  • Despite recently increased prices for individual tracks, sales on iTunes continue to grow daily and recently hit 10 billion songs sold in February.
  • Through websites like Pandora and, internet radio has grown steadily since 2004 with over 42 million listeners in 2009. The rise of mobile phone sales has lead SNL Kagan to predict a 20% increase in internet radio revenue in 2010.
  • Universal Media Group threw up a hail mary in 2009 when they slashed all CD prices to $6-$10 a piece in an attempt to slow the medium’s demise.
  • Newspapers have lost 16.9% circulation between 2007-2009 and lost 43% in advertising revenue during the same period.

If you’d like more numbers that demonstrate how monstrously moronic Prince’s comments sound, check out Fast Company’s article comparing him to Lady Gaga – arguably the queen of internet music.

In the midst of the social media revolution, Prince declaring the end of the internet is about as ludicrous as Decca Records stating in 1962 that “guitar music is on the way out,” after rejecting a recording contract with the Beatles. I’m not sure what evil internet numbers Prince was referring to (binary code?), but the only thing they can’t be good for are his future album sales and the legacy of his brilliant music to future generations. Hopefully he can pull his head out of the sand long enough to avoid drowning in purple rain.

Chase Straight

Manager, Youth Media

The Electric Panda Blog

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