Prince, whose storied disputes with Warner Bros. led him to create his own label, NPG, advised young artists not to sign with anyone during a press conference last night, telling them that “record contracts are just like—I’m gonna say the word—slavery.”
“I would tell any young artist…don’t sign,” he said, adding that “once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves.” Prince’s next album, HITNRUN, will be released exclusively via TIDAL next month.
“Jay Z spent $100 million of his own money to build his own service,” he said of his reason for partnering with TIDAL. “We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”
This isn’t the first time Prince has likened label-artist relations to slavery—in 1996, he started performing with the word “slave” written across his face. “People think I’m a crazy fool for writing ‘slave’ on my face,” he said to Rolling Stone at the time. “But if I can’t do what I want to do, what am I? When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave.”
He added then, “I don’t own Prince’s music. If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.” Prince resigned with Warner last year (after leaving the label, and thus access to the vast majority of his music, for 18 years) to re-release his seminal album Purple Rain, regaining ownership of his catalog.