How the Internet Helps the Music Industry

Why Prince is wrong about the internet.

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An interview article with the musician Prince came out a few days ago. The only thing I know about Prince is that he played at the Super Bowl a few years ago, he wears purple, and apparently he is a musician. And judging from the article he is… I’ll say unusual.

Obviously I won’t be writing his biography anytime soon, however, he said a few things worth commenting on:

“The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.

“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 At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.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.”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, he should probably stick to music.

I’m not even sure if I can comment on that first sentence because if you are reading this you are on the internet, which is obviously not “over.”

I’m not sure what iTunes’ policies are about paying people, but somebody is probably making money with it having grown to the size it has. The vast majority of the working force doesn’t get paid up front, why should he be any different?

You can buy his music in the Zune marketplace. Maybe they pay people up front—though iTunes has been a heck of a lot more successful.

Comparing the internet to anything is a very good comparison. MTV—strike that—“Music Television” went downhill because the channel didn’t keep the same concept over the years, not because it got old. It took them a while, but even they realized it and removed the Music part from the channel’s name.

It’s no secret that Prince and the music industry are upset about how easy the internet makes sharing files without the artists getting their paychecks. Where he is wrong is that the situation is actually getting better for the artists, not worse.

Because iTunes has made it it just as easy to download a song for a buck as it is to go get it illegally people are more inclined to use it. Steve Jobs has said that people have shown that they will pay for quality content, something which could save the news industry as well.

The Good

Prince misses out on all of the good aspects that musicians get from the internet: A few weeks ago I mentioned a band called The Prodigy.

I discovered these guys through a friend that I have never met in person; knowing him only online. I checked out their videos on YouTube—not just their music videos, but their live concert videos, their interviews, their remixes. Some were probably infringing on copyrights, although they have far more videos than most artists do. It appears very important to them to promote and share their music—not just sell it—which gives me another new level of respect for them.

Since discovering them I’ve spent over $50 on their albums—both CDs and on iTunes. Money that never would’ve gone to them had it not been for the internet.

The internet, iTunes, and the music industry are all here to stay, though all three will evolve. Don’t let me stand in your way though, you’re welcome to avoid it and find out for yourself.

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