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Thread started 09/17/20 8:51am

TheFreakerFant
astic

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In light of the money being made now, should WB have caved in to Prince's demands in his lifetime?

When you think of how much money is being made with Prince's name now you kind of wonder why the hell Warners etc didn't give in to all his demands in his lifetime, they now will more than recoup their costs probably hundreds or thousands of times over. Looking back, his demands were really small fry when you look at the bigger picture and we would not have had all the controversy and negative publicity for him and Warners, causing trouble for both sides.

I think it would be a good idea now that all artists should have an advance agreement where they get an advance of predicted post humous royalties while they are still alive. It somehow seems unfair or weird that so much is made when they are dead and they never see it or even get the public appreciation such as the SOTT set is bound to create.

On a side note it is odd he didn't release all these vault gems himself while he was 'free' and still alive or in fact remaster them and release them 'as new'. I don't think anyone would care they were older songs if they are so good. Can you imagine the critical reception these unreleased songs on SOTT would have got if released as a 'new' album?

We are very lucky he did so much and we have so much stuff still to discover, thank you Prince!

[Edited 9/17/20 9:08am]

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Reply #1 posted 09/17/20 9:23am

funkaholic1972

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How can you be so sure a lot of money is being made now? Is there any proof WB and or the Prince Estate are making tons of money now that Prince is dead?

RIP Prince: thank U 4 a funky Time!
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Reply #2 posted 09/17/20 9:31am

TheFreakerFant
astic

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^ Well it's obvious, 250£ per SOTT set and £80 per 1999 set they must be rolling in it. They don't have to pay him or negotiate anymore do they, just maybe royalties to the estate. Not to mention all the royalties from radio and Youtube plays they are now collecting. And this in perpetuity probably.... eek

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Reply #3 posted 09/17/20 9:39am

mediumdry

I wonder how many they sold, as they are limited. Also, I wonder how much Bernie Grundman charges for mastering these days. What's the cost of the Iron Mountain digitisation. How much does it cost to keep Paisley Park running, including archiving all that and keeping it open as a museum. What is the cost of these bespoke record sets in manufacturing... I'm not sure they are really making money here. I hope they do though, as it's the only way to give them incentive to keep releasing stuff. And I hope they will slowly increase the pace of the releases. It's going almost slower than Prince used to release his material when he was complaining about it!

Paisley Park is in your heart - Love Is Here!
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Reply #4 posted 09/17/20 9:49am

skywalker

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I think a happy middle ground could have been reached.

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Meaning, WB could have let Prince go buck wild with releases of newer material if he'd agree to allow them to curate, re-master, re-release his legacy albums. It's be a wonderful case of having your cake and eating it too.

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Bottom line: Both WB and Prince left A LOT of $$$ on the table. The difference is: For Prince, freedom and no creative restrictions was priceless.

"New Power slide...."
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Reply #5 posted 09/17/20 9:51am

masaba

mediumdry said:

I wonder how many they sold, as they are limited. Also, I wonder how much Bernie Grundman charges for mastering these days. What's the cost of the Iron Mountain digitisation. How much does it cost to keep Paisley Park running, including archiving all that and keeping it open as a museum. What is the cost of these bespoke record sets in manufacturing... I'm not sure they are really making money here. I hope they do though, as it's the only way to give them incentive to keep releasing stuff. And I hope they will slowly increase the pace of the releases. It's going almost slower than Prince used to release his material when he was complaining about it!


With the amount of Prince music I'm seeing in adverts, movies etc., somebody is making a good deal of money somewhere along the line.
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Reply #6 posted 09/17/20 9:54am

lavendardrumma
chine

Nobody is doing the sales or profits today tht the music industry was getting before. The money isn't even close.

Advanced royalties are debt. It's one of the ways artists are trapped or "enslaved" by their deals.

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Reply #7 posted 09/17/20 10:06pm

Number1Crush

As I understand it, Prince's contract with Warner stated he was set to earn a few million with every album release. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and the more I consider it, the more I believe Warner and Prince were both scamming each other.

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You're a record label. You sign a prodigy to a multimillion dollar deal. You pay the musician millions of dollars with every release. The artist suddenly wants to accelerate releases, possibly oversaturating the market and overexpose themselves. This happens at a time where the artist has hit their peak and is no longer selling as much music, but expects the same exact treatment and financial compensation. Thanks to bad movie reviews and some underwhelming album sales, Prince's image was not as pristine.

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As a fan of the art, we all wanted to side with Prince and say "release his music!" ...But let's be realistic. His music was just not selling enough to warrant constant releases in which the label would have to shell out money for every single instance.

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The deal was no longer advantageous for the label, to spend millions printing and promoting content that likely won't be worth the investment, with the added caveat that the musician also has a handful of finished albums in the can that they want to release immediately, because they've grown to expect that payday. Why the heck would they agree to let him have free reign?

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While Prince may have innovated the concept of iTunes/Spotify/etc with NPGMC, Prince also went on to prove he had no idea how to effectively run his own career outside of artistic exploits. He regularly failed to deliver content on time, made big oversights and logistic mistakes, and lacked true structure. He was awful at customer service.

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These are the concerns that artists need the labels to handle, which is why labels make money off artists. It is not always a "modern day slave trade" like so many of them say. Prince was marketing savvy, but he was not a "cross the T's and dot the I's" business genius. Prince also didn't like paying people who worked for him..... just like Warner didn't want to pay him an absurd amount of money for releases they likely wouldn't see a return on.

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Prince didn't simply want to "get the music to us" like he and many apologists repeat. He wanted to get paid a bunch of money, and he rationalized it in his mind by saying "the work is already done, I earned the money." Was it true? Yes, technically. But was it realistic? No.

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You have to take into account and be rational about business when discussing these matters. This is not abstract, there is not room for artistic interpretation. If you signed a contract that specifically detailed certain terms, you need to honor the agreement, regardless of outside circumstances. But those outside circumstances are the only motivating factor in potential disagreements. Warner was not being unrealistic, or unfair, or tryrannical for absolutely no reason. They signed Prince, they wanted to promote their brand under his banner, but it was their money, and when they stepped in, they felt they were stopping Prince from comitting artistic suicide.

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Warner was just trying to create structure in their own investment. They were not deliberately trying to sabotage his art. They wanted to exploit his talents and artistic creations in a way that would benefit everyone, but Prince had this one-track mind: He wanted to move on to the "next" album. Translation: He wanted a new payday.

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Is it annoying when the suits get involved? Absolutely, I've seen it happen with almost every form of media that I enjoy: The executives and lawyers get their grubby hands on it, try to play creative, and they destroy the appeal. There are examples of labels doing this to Prince's concepts.

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With that being said, I think that his name change to a symbol was one of the most fascinating, meta, innovative performance art / media marketing / legal strategies in modern history. He successfully evaded a gigantic corporate contract by being obtuse, and trolling everyone. Nobody does that and gets away with it, but he did.

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He wanted out of the Warner contract before his brand and his name recognition dipped, so that he could sign with another label who would just quietly be happy to pay him millions for ridiculous monthly/weekly album releases. Look at the music he released when he went out on his own on NPGMC, are you really going to tell me that THIS was the freedom that he was itching to get out there? He wanted the payday.

[Edited 9/17/20 22:11pm]

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Reply #8 posted 09/17/20 11:44pm

TheFreakerFant
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^ Interesting but rather than just being money motivated I feel a lot of it was his huge creativity output and the wish to get it out there as soon and as quickly as possible before he had moved on.

If it was all about money he would have retired in the 90s and release a vault album every year and wait for the money to roll in. For him it was the music too. That said, I do find it odd that once he was 'free' he didn't use the opportunity better to release some of his greatest work. Instead do some 'new' albums that often felt rather throwaway. It's almost as if he was devaluing his own musical reputation. I think though probably he burnt himself out, by 1996 he had worked on and recorded so much it was probably unrelealistic to think that could continue forever at that high level of quality and work.

I think if he had had good business people and marketing behind him post Warners he could have been mosre successful, however I do think he wanted to have control and do it all himself which isn't realistic. I feel that he felt threatened by anyone that was better at him at something so he tended to hire less experienced or qualified people as it was 'safer' for him and he could maintain control. I also think as he got older his priorities changed and 'freedom' was much more important to him than mega deals. I remember we all had such high hopes post Emancipation for some amazing work from his heydey but that never seemed to materialise, apart from the odd flashes of brilliance on Crystal Ball and some notable songs.

But the irony was that once he got his freedom his creativity and motivation seemed to dip. So did the rate of output, I was expecting all these releases but he was releasing new music pretty much at the same rate if not less than Warners was when he was 'free'. Perhaps he realised the extra work and cost that was involved in multiple releases or felt he no longer had to prove himself? Was he was happier though?! Maybe.

[Edited 9/18/20 0:06am]

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Reply #9 posted 09/18/20 1:03am

funkbabyandthe
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I dont imagine they're selling tonnes of these archive releases.
Thats why the price is so high.
I'd love to know the sales, but idk what figures for this kind of release are these days.
The estate prob has decent revenue from licensing etc but idk how much of that there is or what stuff they're profiting from. I.e where is princes music being licensed? I couldn't tell you.

I'd have been happy if they just did a dylan style bootleg series but for whatever reason they've decided to do it it in these massive releases. Prob more money in it to bundle unreleased songs with famous albums.

Re: his contracts, etc, he was a competitive person. Always wanted to be current. Popular. Etc. To show he could still be commercially successful. That's why he never really challenged himself much in later years. That was his motivation. He never wanted to be a cult artist. He wanted to be big. So it might have been that he was only really interested in payday, and he got that with 3121, musicokogy, AOA, etc. Those albums, he made more effort as he had to. He was getting paid. But also he was getting thr push he wanted. That Ellis show he was still a contender.

Prince talked a good indie game but he never wanted to be a free agent. He was never going to be anti di franco. He was a pop artist. He was used to big mainstream music industry structures. He never had time for indie methods really.
[Edited 9/18/20 1:04am]
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Reply #10 posted 09/20/20 3:30am

Number1Crush

TheFreakerFantastic said:

^ Interesting but rather than just being money motivated I feel a lot of it was his huge creativity output and the wish to get it out there as soon and as quickly as possible before he had moved on.

If it was all about money he would have retired in the 90s and release a vault album every year and wait for the money to roll in.

I was expecting all these releases but he was releasing new music pretty much at the same rate if not less than Warners was when he was 'free'.

I think you're bending over backwards to find the answer when you've already spoken the words yourself. lol

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Warner was paying him millions of dollars per album. Prince being a contrarian by nature, would always have problems with authority, but even if he weren't consiously greedy, he was trained like a dog to remember that dinging the bell earns you a cookie. With every album he saw an increase in finances to expand his mind, resources, his experiments, and increased his independence.

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He convinced himself he was right and that this rebellion was in the name of his artistic exploits, which only existed due to his drive and inspiration knowing that every album release results in a giant check. When things started going south, reality set in, and Warner put the foot down. He was angry they wouldn't honor the contract in the very specific way he wanted.

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Retiring and coasting on Greatest Hits albums which he didn't have the publishing rights to (?) would not miraculously generate more money than releasing a new Warner triple album every other week 52 weeks a year, in exchange for a few million, like Prince wanted to.

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He was driven in the late 80's because he had seen a dream come true realized - making a comfortable living creating something you pour your heart into and truly believe in. In a way, that lifestyle was threatened and ripped away from him because his commercial appeal became the barometer of his creative freedom. The board room of executives who were footing the bill all along clearly didn't agree with his strategy anymore because it stopped working. They placed a glass cieling on his career, and this justifiably wounded him, and left him with no reason to aim for the sky.

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It's really quite clear, look at the motivation of everyone involved, I don't think Warner was being too ridiculous in trying to reign in some of Prince's more abstract concepts. Their pragmatism put a nuzzle on his creativity, and his whole crusade was more of a defensive reaction "How dare they" rather than his true desire.

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He never would have been driven to produce or package this music if there were no release and reward. He wanted what he believed what coming to him in exchange for his work, and when he realized it was too good to be true forever, there was no rainbow at the end, and thus he ended up starting his own service under protest, where he was barely able to scrounge up table scraps of live recordings, other experimentations, and half efforts. There was no reward, thus there was no drive.

[Edited 9/20/20 3:34am]

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Reply #11 posted 09/20/20 5:11am

TheEnglishGent

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Didn't the Warner contract only pay the advance for each album if he sold enough of the previous album?

RIP sad
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Reply #12 posted 09/20/20 7:52am

onlyforaminute

popcorn
If you carry the egg basket do not dance.

Do good, then throw it into the sea.

#octavia tried to tell us
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