"The Internet's completely over," he told the U.K.'s The Daily Mirror. "The Internet's like MTV. At one time, MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. . . . 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."
Say what you want about him, but Prince has never cared what anyone thought, so such comments aren't that surprising.
Further, he would be easy to dismiss by saying, "Pfft. Prince? People still listen to him?"
Even those not numbered among the buyers of those records would have to agree he's willing to go a long way for his art. He's still jokingly referred to as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince after the unpronounceable "Love Symbol" debacle in the '90s, which was really a gigantic, offensive hand gesture aimed at Warner Bros. Records.
Counter to his recent comments, he was one of the first artists to embrace the Web, using it to collect pre-orders for his 1998 box set Crystal Ball. The process was a disaster as fans received their packages late or claimed it was not what they were promised.
Still, Prince is a pillar of artistic integrity, even when his actions come off a little self-righteous, such as pushing for YouTube to take down his own performance of Radiohead's "Creep" from Indio's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2008.
Upon hearing Prince's declaration about the Internet going the way of old milk, Kenny G not exactly the king of hipness told The Associated Press, "I must be dead, too, 'cause I use it all the time. . . . Maybe I've got a sixth sense, and I only see dead people. I don't know."
When you're on the opposite side of the debate from Kenny G and you appear to be losing, something seems horribly wrong.
Add the fact that Prince just gave away millions of copies 20TEN (right), his new album, not via the Internet, or even, as of this writing, in America, but for free in Saturday's Daily Mirror, and things start to smell of stirring up controversy for the sake of it.
But that's just not like Prince. If it were the ravings from a lunatic, I would dismiss them immediately, but we're not talking about Mel Gibson.
When someone with Prince's track record and personality says it, however, I'm willing to hear him out.
Some have praised his statements. Forbes' Quentin Hardy argued that Prince "said outright what others are just acting on," emphasizing that Prince understands what the Internet is not and is primed to capitalize on that. But such a position is likely to come from a financial publication.
That speaks to the scope of the Internet as a whole, but as far as not giving his new music to iTunes or anyone else, it's a little different.
As a conduit for music and music sales, recent reports are unclear. Sales of individual tracks have made a minuscule drop so far this year while the sale of digital albums rose 12.7 percent, according to the latest Nielsen Soundscan data.
His comments about being paid for his work are dead on, even if I think he's picking on the wrong bully. The Internet isn't over, especially as a means of collecting music, whether digitally or ordering hard copies.
Calling the Internet "dead" is overreacting, especially at a time when people are joining Facebook by the thousands daily and Twitter has become a viable source for information about figures in sports, politics and entertainment. Despite approaching 20 years since its unveiling, the technology still feels like it's in its infancy to me.
But Prince is right about artists getting paid for their work. If anyone should take up the mantle of artists rights and run with it, a proposition some may find an unpopular stance, it should be someone with a track record for artistic integrity who doesn't care what people think about him.
Sometimes you have to be brash to get people's attention and who better to grab that torch than the guy who created something as unapologetically detailed as "Darling Nikki?"