Prince compares record contracts to slavery – “don’t sign”

Lack of control over music's use is chief gripe

Prince has used a rare meeting with journalists to take a shot at the way the music industry works, comparing record contracts to “slavery”, and advising young artists not to sign.

The secretive musician expanded on previous copyright comments at a meeting with 10 journalists at his Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis, according to NPR. Pictures and recording devices were banned from the gathering.

“Record contracts are just like – I’m gonna say the word – slavery,” Prince said, according to NPR. During a lawsuit against Warner Bros in 1993, Prince famously wrote the word ‘Slave’ on his face in protest against the major label.

In particular, he picked out streaming services, arguing that contracts with labels force artists to put their music onto the services regardless of their own wishes, and reiterating his feelings about the rates those services pay.

“Once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves,” he said. “Jay-Z spent $100 million of his own money to build his own service [Tidal]. We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”


He went on to criticise Clear Channel, a major force in the American radio industry, for homogenising music, and emphasised the importance of both control of revenue and freedom for artists to choose who to collaborate with.

Prince spoke in part to promote the release of his new album ‘HITNRUN’ via Jay Z’s streaming service Tidal, but also expanded on the stance that saw him withdraw all his music from every other streaming site earlier this year. While he later released new single ‘Stare’ to Spotify, the remainder of his content is still absent from all music streaming services bar Tidal.

Last year, Prince filed copyright complaints against 22 online users, including several who shared links to bootlegged Prince concerts through social media.

‘HITNRUN’ is scheduled for release on September 7.