As of July 1st, 2015, American singer-songwriter and entertainer Prince has chosen to remove his music from all online streaming services, except Jay-Z’s enterprise, Tidal.
Prince has had an uneasy relationship with the Internet in recent years. Just last year, Prince had deleted his social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Prior to deleting his Twitter, the entertainer could be found at “@3rdeyegirl – referencing the backing band he recently released new LP ‘Plectrumelectrum’ alongside,” according to NME.
At the time, there was no explanation given for why he pulled his accounts offline, but Prince since seemingly reemerged on Twitter with a verified account under the handle @Prince3EG. To date, he has tweeted a total of 96 times, and has approximately 17.7 thousand followers.
In addition, Prince is a staunch advocate for musicians’ and artists’ rights, but NME reports that he began threatening his fans that posted his music on YouTube with legal action, presumably due to copyright infringement.
In 2014, he took control of his musical catalogue, and now owns all of his publishing, after making a new deal with his former record label, Warner Bros., according to The New York Times. The arrangement reached between Prince and the label gives the artist ownership of his recorded material, but allows Warner Bros. to continue to distribute classic albums like 1999 and Purple Rain.
According to The New York Times, a note on Prince’s Spotify page says: “Prince’s publisher has asked all streaming services to remove his catalog. We have cooperated with the request and hope to bring his music back as soon as possible.”
The news of Prince’s decision to remove his work from all streaming services except Tidal came to light just one day after Apple launched their new streaming app, Apple Music. Although being relatively new to the streaming music scene, Apple Music has recently been at the center of a controversy; because of alleged wording in a contract that says that music rights’ owners will not be compensated for songs played during a three-month free trial period that the streaming service is offering to its users. After a series of artists – including Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe and country-pop star Taylor Swift – spoke out about this lack of compensation to pressure Apple Music into changing their tune, and following a loss in support from The Association of Independent Music, the media giant caved and will be paying out royalties during the trial period.
The larger question that stems from all of this is: why did Prince continue to keep his material on Jay-Z’s Tidal, but not on any of the other streaming services like Spotify?
While there isn’t a direct answer to that question, The New York Times hypothesized that – despite allegedly only paying artists 2.5 percent above the industry standard – Prince found Tidal to live up to its reputation and being an artist friendly outfit, as he has used the service to provide his fans with exclusive content, which included a live stream, in May, of a concert he was giving in Baltimore, Maryland.
Lastly, The Times reports that Prince was not listed in March as having been one of the 16 artists who own a percentage of the company, which still cannot seem to find a perfect match in their highest levels of management.