Prince graces the cover of Billboard magazine's newest issue -- he is, after all, the upcoming Billboard Awards Icon winner -- but what's juicy is what he says inside the magazine. The artist formerly known as "the artist formerly known as Prince" gives journalist Gail Mitchell a tour of his secret lair, Paisley Park, tells the truth -- supposedly -- about who was behind his latest leaked material, and also gives Billboard a piece of his mind about Madonna and Maroon 5.
For starters, Prince says he's not behind the tunes that were posted online -- and have since been deleted -- by a mysterious Twitter user. He insists it wasn't a publicity stunt, though Mitchell seems to have her doubts based on some artifacts found at Paisley Park -- namely a drum head decorated with the tweeter's avatar. Hmmm ...
In other music sharing news, Prince describes why you won't find his vintage performances on YouTube. "I have a team of female black lawyers who keep an eye on such transgressions," he says.
Further talk about music ownership gets Prince riled up -- and rightfully so -- over the latter part of his Warner Bros. record label era. He feels his later releases were commercially unsuccessful because Warner mis-marketed them. And so he began to crank out album after album to complete his contractual obligations and set himself free as an artist.
"It was also about Madonna," he says. "She was getting paid, but at the time we were selling more records and selling out concerts on multiple nights." (As a refresher, Madonna's Maverick Records was distributed by Warner Bros. She famously ditched the label for Live Nation in 2007.)
Another musical act Prince has less than kind words for is Maroon 5, who recorded a cover of his iconic track, "Kiss." Though Prince says he's happy to cover other artists' songs at a live show, and pay royalties accordingly, he doesn't support the idea of recording covers. And he posits a pretty legitimate question: "Why do we need to hear another cover of a song someone else did? Art is about building a new foundation, not just laying something on top of what's already there."
As for talk of a forthcoming studio album -- his last was released in 2010 -- Prince says, "I don't do albums anymore -- I don't have a deal. I do songs." Alright, we get the whole music ownership/label aggression thing, but let's not get caught up in semantics. What we want to know is whether fans will soon be able to buy new Prince music.
"If my fans want this, they will tell me what to do and how much they want to pay," Prince says. Fair enough. Fans can go to 20PR1NC3.com and let "the artist" know.