My heart is broken. Prince is gone. One of the most suave and mysteriously cool people ever is gone. And so, like many of you, upon hearing of his death I opened Spotify, plugged in the speakers, and planned on blasting some Purple Rain throughout the office.
But alas – there were practically no Prince songs on Spotify. A live version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps was there, but that was it.
So I opened YouTube. Surely there must be some Prince there. But again I was disappointed. Sure, there are some hits, but not nearly as much as I expected. Ok – what about Apple Music? One album from 2015. That’s it.
Why You Can’t Find any Prince Music on The Internet
The mystery of Prince’s missing online presence goes back to 2007 when a mother uploaded a video on YouTube of her children dancing to Prince’s song Let’s Go Crazy. Although the video was only 29 seconds long and barely audible, Prince demanded that his music be taken off YouTube, saying that he intended to “reclaim his art on the internet.”
This was only the beginning of Prince’s lifelong battle against the internet. As time passed, Prince – who was notorious about protecting his image (he doesn’t even like reporters to take notes during interviews) as well as being a savvy businessman – refused to allow any of his music to be uploaded to YouTube.
And the same goes for other streaming services. Prince was outspoken about not allowing any of his music to be on Apple Music, Rdio, or Spotify.
“I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else,” he famously said. “They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”
How to Stream Prince’s Music Online
For years Prince refused to cave. Until recently the easiest way to listen to his music was to by his CDs (gasp). However, a few months before his death, Prince told Ebony Magazine that he decided to allow Tidal to stream his music.
“Tidal?” you ask. “Who uses Tidal?” Well, Prince. In his interview with Ebony, Prince explained how he liked Tidal because the site allowed him to control his own music.
For example, Prince liked that he could add other artists to his page. Instead of an algorithm selecting music that sounded like Prince and displaying those artists on his page, Prince was able to handpick the artists on his page.
“We’ve changed the format of how our music appears,” he told Ebony. “Where it would normally say “RELATED” and have a bunch of random stuff pop up — I love D’Angelo but he’s just getting started, he came way after — what we did is we changed that to INFLUENCES. Then all these black and white pictures come up and you can go back and look at all the people who influenced me.”
And most importantly, Tidal helped Prince get paid. Unlike Spotify or Apple Music, which charge $9.99 a month, Tidal charges $19.99 to pay for increased royalties to artists.
“My thing is this,” he told Ebony. “The catalog has to be protected… Spotify wasn’t paying, so you gotta shut it down.”
So… that brings us back to the original problem: How can you blast Prince through your office speakers right now?
You could search YouTube and find a handful of live performances or bootlegged versions of his songs that slipped through YouTube copyright filters. You can also order his CDs off Amazon. But the easiest way for a quick fix is to head to Tidal and sign up for a free trial. And as you might expect, Prince is currently on Tidal’s homepage. Our loss is their gain.