Prince's Purple Reign Continues
Just as in life, the Purple One is reigning in death topping the album charts as fans and mourners seem to have snatched up everything Prince in the days following his death and Prince hits—most notably “Purple Rain”, “When Doves Cry” and “The Very Best of Prince”—have dominated the charts.
Over one million song sales were recorded on Thursday alone. That’s dramatically up from the 18,800 sold just a week before his death. Sales soaring to 2.3 million units by the end of the third day, with the artist holding down 19 of the 20 top albums in Amazon's digital music store and 13 of the top 20 album slots on iTunes.
While Prince’s 39th album and last official recording, “Hitnrun Phase One”, was released just last year, it was his stalwart hits from the 80s and 90s that were getting the most love as radio stations across the nation played his music non-stop in tribute upon learning of the 57-year old superstar’s death.
Who will control Prince’s estate—unofficially reported to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million—is yet to be deter- mined. That figure—which includes the value of his Paisley Park compound— is expected to rise as future income could swell given the wealth of unreleased material contained in his now famed vault (rumored to hold upwards of 500 unre- leased songs) coupled with earnings from the vast body of songs he wrote for himself and others.
What has put the estate left by the Minneapolis- based legend in such a great position was the control and ownership he exercised over everything he did.
“Why would you do anything you don’t own,” he famously said to a fellow artist.
It was a lesson he learned the hard way.
In 1996, he waged war with Warner Brothers and the record industry over their treatment of artists and ownership of masters, stemming from deals he signed in his early years at the label—deals that granted them ownership of his work. Going public with the fight, Prince had slave written on his face and changed his name to a symbol, becoming known as “the artist formerly known as Prince”, while charging that the $100 million deal he’d signed with Warner’s may have just been a way to lock him into 'institutionalized slavery'.
After fulfilling his contract Prince resorts to the internet, phone pre-orders and eventually a monthly online subscription service offering exclusive content to market his music as well as more traditional routes.
In 2007, Prince moved to block unauthorized use of his music on YouTube and other major sites, stating his strong belief that artists as the creators and owners of their music need to reclaim their art."
In 2014, Prince sued 22 internet users for a total of $22 mil- lion for allegedly posting live bootlegs of his concerts. Just months later coming full circle, he would announce a new deal with Warner Brothers that would yield him the rights to the masters they had recorded in his early years.
All in all, today’s artists owe a huge debt of gratitude to Prince for the game changing battle he fought for artists rights.
For Prince it was not just good business, but Biblical, stating, “The Bible says you’re not supposed to sign your inheritance away.”