I’m not Prince’s biggest fan. I am someone who spent his entire childhood defining himself via Prince’s songs at their literal meaning. I still have moments when notes played and words written and/or sung by the legend accurately define exactly how I’m feeling at any given moment. Prince’s majestic excellence deserves to be easily available for me to revel/wallow in my best/worst moments with ease. It’s on streaming services because the music industry as we knew it is dead and Prince’s estate owes the IRS $100 million. The return of his catalog to streaming services is a celebratory moment.
I’m a Spotify devotee if for no other reason than I pretty much find a way to define most every moment of my life and every mood with songs by artists of all genres. Digital technology allowing me to advance from wearing my emotions on my sleeve and carry them in my pocket is an amazing feat. When I initially encountered Spotify in 2011, I loved that Purple Rain, Diamonds and Pearls, Sign O’ The Times, Around The World In A Day, and Prince’s 1993-released symbol album were all literally at the tips of my fingers because on any given day, those albums encapsulate a solid 75% of my possible range of emotions. Because I love Spotify so much, for the past 19 months, I’ve had to “discover” 10 times the music via the service to encapsulate things that Prince did musically in just one song. Though Prince likely would’ve hated how it happened, I’m overjoyed that when I need to hear “Adore” by Prince I don’t have to find a ten-track section of a playlist to define what one of the greatest artists who ever lived did in just over six minutes.
Prince once correctly noted, “if you don’t own your masters, then your masters own you.” Music entrepreneur Jeff Price noted, “Prince wanted control over his music. It was his. He wrote it and recorded it. His simple, reasonable request was to determine how it was used and how much he should get paid for that use.” These are salient points when considering a music industry wherein artists have the potential of making considerable money from owning their masters and creating singles, albums, and compilations, or licensing that music for commercial use. But now we’re in an age wherein the music industry has been brutally strangled by the digital age and technological advancements to the tune of overall sales dropping 80% overall in the industry over the past decade. As much as Prince was holding on for dear life, the numbers don’t lie. The music industry that Prince was fighting for is dead. In proclaiming “long live the music industry” soon after noting this demise, it’s likely best in enjoying Prince’s music via streaming that we in many ways celebrate some of the finest moments of an industry that once was, and will never again exist.
There’s “a world of never-ending happiness where I can always see the sun (day or night)” that’s now available to me again at the touch of my fingertips. As well there’s a “fantasy about a little box with a mirror and a tongue inside,” some “morning papers,” a girl “who walked in through the out door (out door),” and a girl who “masturbated with a magazine,” too. As much as we may feel that the man who made these songs-as-moments would have never allowed these songs to be heard this way, there’s just as much of an argument to be made for the fact that he (or anyone) couldn’t have predicted what has become of the music industry, either.
Prince’s death was bitter. I’m still heartbroken. However, do like I did and marvel at being able to pull up “She’s Always In My Hair” on your telephone again and cry at the idea that Prince is once again available again on Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, or any service you love to use to access music in the modern age. Those tears? They’re not bitter. They’re bittersweet.