Back in 2010, The Daily Mirror visited Prince at Paisley Park. It’s not the most fascinating profile in the world, and littered with sentences like, “The walls were a vibrant reddish purple, flickering candles lined every ledge, and the smell of incense filled the air.” But it did contain this quote, which sent the internet, newly powered by outrage, on fire:
“The internet’s completely over. 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.
“The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. 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.”
Prince later clarified the remarks to the Guardian. “What I meant was that the internet was over for anyone who wants to get paid, and I was right about that,” he said. “Tell me a musician who’s got rich off digital sales. Apple’s doing pretty good though, right?”
Prince’s comments to the Mirror came shortly after he decided to release his album 20Ten as a free covermount in the British newspaper in an attempt to shield it from piracy. In subsequent years, he continued to block his music on YouTube and prevented most streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music, from featuring his work.
But in 2010 Prince was, as usual, ahead of the times. The internet isn’t “over,” but by the time he spoke to the Mirror it was clear that musicians—and other creators—weren’t going to benefit from giving away their products for free; corporations were.