For a long time, the only way to hear American singer-songwriter Prince’s music was on physical records, through Jay-Z’s streaming site, Tidal, or at a live concert.
That finally changed a few days ago on July 7, when Prince’s estate created a YouTube channel and uploaded his popular videos, including When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, I Would Die 4 U, and Baby I’m A Star. The move has thrilled his fans who have been waiting for his music to surface online for free streaming.
Prince, who died in 2016, had a troubled history with the internet, saying he wanted to “reclaim the net”. For nearly 10 years he was on a war-path with YouTube and pirated content online. He even threatened to sue YouTube – who he thought insufficiently compensates artists for use of their work – over copyright claims.
It all started in 2007, when Prince asked for about 2,000 videos to be removed from YouTube. Three years later, he said, “The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.” His famous words were: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. I really believe in finding new ways to distribute my music.”
In 2014, he closed all his social media accounts, including his YouTube channel. When his fans questioned the decision on Twitter, he simply said, “Since YouTube doesn’t pay equitable licensing fees, isn’t that a nonsensical question?”