Music celebrities have given CDM words to live by over the years — strange, yet strangely profound, reflections on the evils of modern technology. Sure, they’re trying to make some point about MP3 compression or the potential distractions of the Internet or … something. Yet, taken out of context, they form a kind of beat poetry for our time.
2006, Bob Dylan: “New records … have sound all over them.
… CDs are small. There’s no stature to it.”
2007, Elton John: “Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet…
There’s too much technology available.”
Elton John’s words led us to create the verb “to Elton John,” meaning to disconnect from the Internet in order to get some actual music making done.
And now, in 2010, we have Prince.
“The Internet’s completely over.”
Yeah, completely. Okay, he did have some … I don’t want to say “explanation,” which would usually denote “a set of statements constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context, and consequences of those facts.” He had what I will describe as “further words.”
“I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”
Edit: As noted by Chris Randall, he’s probably referring to the practice of paid advances for exclusivity at brick-and-mortar retailers. That doesn’t actually make this comment make any sense, though, coming from the man who once touted his own online store and who would presumably not have to give his music to anyone in order to be on “The Internet.”
Anyway, let’s not get stuck on these minor details. Elton John tearing down the Internet was much more interesting than the Internet being “over.”
“The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.”
“Outdated,” you say? Something that was … big in the 80s? And now struggles to validate
his its significance? Go on.
The true profundity of Prince comes in regards to digital devices:
“Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.
They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”
And just like that, Create Digital Music got its new motto.
Remember, look out. We’re using maths to destroy your brain.
Update: an interesting factoid for you. I see no evidence Prince couldn’t continue to offer fans direct purchasing of his album on “The Internet,” particularly if online stores aren’t paying him for exclusivity. It’s his earlier, evidently failed attempt to do so that’s pertinent here. Not only did Prince in 2004 say he would build his own music store online, but he offered, at the time, what was described as a “lifetime membership” to the store. Apparently that was Prince’s Website’s lifetime, not your lifetime, because the site itself — npgmusicclub.com — is gone. (Thanks to Darren Halm for pointing to the 2004 NYT story.) The site, for its part, was a huge success – at least in the unsubstantiated claims of the press release at the time, which described “hundreds of thousands” of members paying for the subscription model. That would mean hundreds of thousands of lifetime members who now have … nothing? (I’m trying to find out if that’s the case.)
Aside from the end of online subscriptions on his own site, Prince has removed himself from YouTube, and closed his own Website.
I guess the Internet really is over, at least in Prince’s secret world.