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Thread started 09/05/19 8:05am

lurker316

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Warner Bros. treated Prince extremely well


I understand Prince's objections to Warner Bros. owning the masters to his music. And I appreciate there were likely other behind the scenes issues that Prince had legitimate complaints about.

But isn't it reasonable to argue that Warner Bros. treated Prince extremely well? In fact, couldn't you argue that they treated him better than they'd treated just about any other artist?

1.) When he was a completely unknown 18-year old novice, they gave him a 3-album contract with complete artistic control. He had a co-producer on this first album, but otherwise the artistic freedom was legit. It was incredibly rare in the '70s for any artists, even established artists, to have true artistic control? Even the Beatles had a producer.

2.) Out of his first three albums he had only one mildly successful Top 40 hit (I Wanna Be Your Lover). Furthermore, he embarrassed the label by getting stage-fright on American Bandstand, and he was booed off the stage when opening for the Rolling Stones. Many labels wouldn't have given him a second contract, but Warner Bros. did. They believed him (partly because of the critical acclaim of Dirty Mind).

3.) Back when vinyl was king, record labels typically allowed only big name artists with built-in fan bases to release double LPs. That's because the cost of production (more material, more packaging, more shipping) was difficult to recoup. Usually labels only took chances on double LPs for artists with a minimum floor for sales. Yet Warner Bros. agreed to let Prince, who at that point still hadn't found commercial success, release the double LP 1999.

4.) Next Prince asks Warner Bros. to help him make a movie. Granted, at that point Prince was a star based on success of 1999, but rock movies rarely did well at the box office. Even the Beatles movies underperformed. So making a rock movie, even one with a hot up-and-comer, was still taking a chance. To make it an even bigger risk, the movie Prince wanted to make wasn't a feel-good movie with an heroic protagonist. Nope. Instead the star of the movie would be a selfish, control-freak, domestic abusing jerk. To make the movie even darker, his dad would commit suicide. The fact that Warner Bros. agreed to this (with the exception of saying that dad needs to live) shows that they were willing to bend over backwards for Prince.

5.) The record industry model was to release new albums from an artist every two or three years, to milk as much money as possible out of their latest release and not over-saturate the market. This was especially true for major hit records -- you didn't want to cut their sales short by releasing a new record and making them seem like old news. Yet despite the Purple Rain album still selling in droves, a mere year later Warner Bros. agreed to Prince's demand to release a new album (Around the World in the Day). An album, mind you, that was likely to alienate much of the casual audience because it went in a new musical direction.




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Reply #1 posted 09/05/19 8:30am

skywalker

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So, here's the deal:

--

Prince didn't have many complaints about the early part of his career/time with Warner Bros. His issues stemmed from what went on with them in the late 80's, and even more so in the early 90's.

"New Power slide...."
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Reply #2 posted 09/05/19 9:05am

lurker316

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skywalker said:

So, here's the deal:

--

Prince didn't have many complaints about the early part of his career/time with Warner Bros. His issues stemmed from what went on with them in the late 80's, and even more so in the early 90's.


Right, he got upset with them in the '90s after they gave him a $100 million contract. I should have included that on my list of exceptional things Warner Bros. did for him.

Another thing I should have included was Warner Bros. indulging his capricious nature and pulling the Black Album at the last minute.

His big gripe in the late '80s was Warners refusal to release triple albums and multiple albums within a year, correct? That's understandable.

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Reply #3 posted 09/05/19 9:31am

PeggyO

lurker316 said:

skywalker said:

So, here's the deal:

--

Prince didn't have many complaints about the early part of his career/time with Warner Bros. His issues stemmed from what went on with them in the late 80's, and even more so in the early 90's.


Right, he got upset with them in the '90s after they gave him a $100 million contract. I should have included that on my list of exceptional things Warner Bros. did for him.

Another thing I should have included was Warner Bros. indulging his capricious nature and pulling the Black Album at the last minute.

His big gripe in the late '80s was Warners refusal to release triple albums and multiple albums within a year, correct? That's understandable.

Didn't he need to meet a sales "quota" per album for that $100 million contract to be in play?

It seems Prince really could not have met that criteria using past album sales as a benchmark.

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Reply #4 posted 09/05/19 11:40am

SoulAlive

I agree,Warners were very supportive and generous to Prince.When he signed the 1992 contract,they pumped a ton of money into Paisley Park Records even though,by that point,none of the releases on that label were successful.They gave him everything he wanted...even a vice president position!

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Reply #5 posted 09/05/19 3:28pm

kingricefan

Prince's personality refused to accept the 'No's.' that Warner Bros. continously told him in his career. Yes, they did seem to bend over backwards to please him in some cases, but WB refusing to let him release the music he wanted and when he wanted is what hit Prince the hardest. Remember- he stated many times that his songs were his children and for WB to let those children not be free to play with people (fans) was very hurtful to him. So, WB gives him a $100 million contract, turns around and doesn't do much promotion for the albums under said contract which results in the nullification of contract? To me, this is another example of the 'man' taking advantage of their client and trying to keep him in line. Both parties got a ton of publicity when this deal was announced. WB knew that Prince wouldn't be able to sell the album quotas (and they made sure that it didn't happen) and the exec's in the board room were probably laughing at him as soon as the ink dried on the contract.

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Reply #6 posted 09/05/19 4:03pm

toejam

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I'd love someone to make a documentary about this, interview some folk from Warner Bros. and perhaps get a different point of view from the sympathetic 'poor exploited musician' angle that we're so used to hearing from Prince's camp.

.

[Edited 9/5/19 16:04pm]

Toejam @ Peach & Black Podcast: http://peachandblack.podbean.com
Toejam's band "Cheap Fakes": http://cheapfakes.com.au, http://www.facebook.com/cheapfakes
Toejam the solo artist: http://www.youtube.com/scottbignell
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Reply #7 posted 09/05/19 4:21pm

Cloudbuster

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Very much so.

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Reply #8 posted 09/05/19 4:44pm

VaultCurator

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lurker316 said:


I understand Prince's objections to Warner Bros. owning the masters to his music. And I appreciate there were likely other behind the scenes issues that Prince had legitimate complaints about.

But isn't it reasonable to argue that Warner Bros. treated Prince extremely well? In fact, couldn't you argue that they treated him better than they'd treated just about any other artist?

1.) When he was a completely unknown 18-year old novice, they gave him a 3-album contract with complete artistic control. He had a co-producer on this first album, but otherwise the artistic freedom was legit. It was incredibly rare in the '70s for any artists, even established artists, to have true artistic control? Even the Beatles had a producer.

2.) Out of his first three albums he had only one mildly successful Top 40 hit (I Wanna Be Your Lover). Furthermore, he embarrassed the label by getting stage-fright on American Bandstand, and he was booed off the stage when opening for the Rolling Stones. Many labels wouldn't have given him a second contract, but Warner Bros. did. They believed him (partly because of the critical acclaim of Dirty Mind).

3.) Back when vinyl was king, record labels typically allowed only big name artists with built-in fan bases to release double LPs. That's because the cost of production (more material, more packaging, more shipping) was difficult to recoup. Usually labels only took chances on double LPs for artists with a minimum floor for sales. Yet Warner Bros. agreed to let Prince, who at that point still hadn't found commercial success, release the double LP 1999.

4.) Next Prince asks Warner Bros. to help him make a movie. Granted, at that point Prince was a star based on success of 1999, but rock movies rarely did well at the box office. Even the Beatles movies underperformed. So making a rock movie, even one with a hot up-and-comer, was still taking a chance. To make it an even bigger risk, the movie Prince wanted to make wasn't a feel-good movie with an heroic protagonist. Nope. Instead the star of the movie would be a selfish, control-freak, domestic abusing jerk. To make the movie even darker, his dad would commit suicide. The fact that Warner Bros. agreed to this (with the exception of saying that dad needs to live) shows that they were willing to bend over backwards for Prince.

5.) The record industry model was to release new albums from an artist every two or three years, to milk as much money as possible out of their latest release and not over-saturate the market. This was especially true for major hit records -- you didn't want to cut their sales short by releasing a new record and making them seem like old news. Yet despite the Purple Rain album still selling in droves, a mere year later Warner Bros. agreed to Prince's demand to release a new album (Around the World in the Day). An album, mind you, that was likely to alienate much of the casual audience because it went in a new musical direction.

.

Hi Lurker. You raise a lot of good points here.
.
It seemed that Warner Brothers had a lot of faith in Prince in the early years. They gave him his own label, allowed him record excessive amounts of music on their studio time, allowed him to manufacture other bands like The Time and Vanity 6, hire a lot of people, gave him his own movie.
.
It’s strange how a rift only seemed to form between Prince and Warner after he became a huge star and proved himself to be a worthwhile investment.
.
If you stay at any company for long enough the ethos will naturally change. Staff changes around, new management is brought it, perspectives get skewed. I’m not saying Prince’s grievances were not legitimate.
.
I think Prince’s problem wasn’t Warner Brother specifically. From my perspective, Prince had outgrown the traditional record label / talent relationship by the late 80s. I think the drama we witnessed between them probably would still have happened regardless of who Prince was signed to. His first passion was making music. Not being a star that could rake in a ton of cash.
.
Having said that, it would have been nice if WB had acknowledged this and shown the same faith in Prince / leniency in the early 90s that they did ten years prior. Had they have done so Prince may never have left and his career may not have spent so long in limbo in the years to come.

RIP EXTRALOVEABLE!!! sad
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Reply #9 posted 09/05/19 4:46pm

SoulAlive

kingricefan said:

Prince's personality refused to accept the 'No's.' that Warner Bros. continously told him in his career. Yes, they did seem to bend over backwards to please him in some cases, but WB refusing to let him release the music he wanted and when he wanted is what hit Prince the hardest. Remember- he stated many times that his songs were his children and for WB to let those children not be free to play with people (fans) was very hurtful to him. So, WB gives him a $100 million contract, turns around and doesn't do much promotion for the albums under said contract which results in the nullification of contract? To me, this is another example of the 'man' taking advantage of their client and trying to keep him in line. Both parties got a ton of publicity when this deal was announced. WB knew that Prince wouldn't be able to sell the album quotas (and they made sure that it didn't happen) and the exec's in the board room were probably laughing at him as soon as the ink dried on the contract.



Warners allowed Prince to release one album a year and let’s be honest....the record-buying public could barely keep up with *those* albums.I can understand their viewpoint.Prince wanted to flood the market but doing so creates poor sales.It’s simply not good business sense to release too much music.
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Reply #10 posted 09/05/19 5:51pm

laytonian

The second contract had already been signed when he opened for the Rolling Stones on Oct 9, 1981. His fourth album (Controversy) was released on Oct 14, 1981 (five days later).

Facts matter.

lurker316 said:

2.) Out of his first three albums he had only one mildly successful Top 40 hit (I Wanna Be Your Lover). Furthermore, he embarrassed the label by getting stage-fright on American Bandstand, and he was booed off the stage when opening for the Rolling Stones. Many labels wouldn't have given him a second contract, but Warner Bros. did. They believed him (partly because of the critical acclaim of Dirty Mind).

Welcome to "the org", laytonian… come bathe with me.
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Reply #11 posted 09/05/19 6:24pm

PeggyO

laytonian said:

The second contract had already been signed when he opened for the Rolling Stones on Oct 9, 1981. His fourth album (Controversy) was released on Oct 14, 1981 (five days later).

Facts matter.

lurker316 said:

2.) Out of his first three albums he had only one mildly successful Top 40 hit (I Wanna Be Your Lover). Furthermore, he embarrassed the label by getting stage-fright on American Bandstand, and he was booed off the stage when opening for the Rolling Stones. Many labels wouldn't have given him a second contract, but Warner Bros. did. They believed him (partly because of the critical acclaim of Dirty Mind).

I don't think he had stage fright on American Bandstand; he was being cheeky per Dez. D. His aloof manner was pre-planned.

He had stage-fright or awkwardness at the Capri theater earlier and the label wanted him to get more seasoned before touring.

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Reply #12 posted 09/05/19 9:53pm

loveletter

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here is a thought.

The deal with WB was more than a record conctract. Think bigger.

Hello God,

within this loveletter

Special Thanks 2 Paisley Park and The DownLoad Society
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Reply #13 posted 09/06/19 1:48am

darkroman

I look at this from the perspective that Prince was able to produce a massive amount of releases under WB.

WB were paying all of the bills as Prince would not have been able to finance everything during this period.

Take for example in 1987 BOTH Madhouse albums were released.

Warners were very accomodating in releasing so much, so fast.

Oddly, Prince left WB as he wanted to be able to release more faster, but when he left WB his output slowed down!!

So he never really walked the walk!


cool

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Reply #14 posted 09/06/19 1:53am

WhisperingDand
elions

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darkroman said:



Oddly, Prince left WB as he wanted to be able to release more faster, but when he left WB his output slowed down!!

So he never really walked the walk!


cool

ha, exactly. Prince lived his life as if every day was opposite day. If WB told him to "speed it up" instead of "slow it down" in '92 he would have probably spread releases out 2-3 years apart like they wanted him to.

"And whatever you do, don't promote this record," bam, then he'd be on every talk show in America playing the game.

[Edited 9/6/19 1:54am]

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Reply #15 posted 09/06/19 2:36am

Cloudbuster

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PeggyO said:

lurker316 said:


Right, he got upset with them in the '90s after they gave him a $100 million contract. I should have included that on my list of exceptional things Warner Bros. did for him.

Another thing I should have included was Warner Bros. indulging his capricious nature and pulling the Black Album at the last minute.

His big gripe in the late '80s was Warners refusal to release triple albums and multiple albums within a year, correct? That's understandable.

Didn't he need to meet a sales "quota" per album for that $100 million contract to be in play?

It seems Prince really could not have met that criteria using past album sales as a benchmark.


Yeah, each album he released had to sell 5 million. Once he realised that he wasn't going to attain that goal (which was straight away with the release of Love Symbol, the first album following the contract) he turned on WB.

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Reply #16 posted 09/06/19 4:30am

BartVanHemelen

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PeggyO said:

lurker316 said:


Right, he got upset with them in the '90s after they gave him a $100 million contract. I should have included that on my list of exceptional things Warner Bros. did for him.

Another thing I should have included was Warner Bros. indulging his capricious nature and pulling the Black Album at the last minute.

His big gripe in the late '80s was Warners refusal to release triple albums and multiple albums within a year, correct? That's understandable.

Didn't he need to meet a sales "quota" per album for that $100 million contract to be in play?

.

https://musicfans.stackex...m/a/89/129

© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
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Reply #17 posted 09/06/19 4:37am

BartVanHemelen

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VaultCurator said:

His first passion was making music. Not being a star that could rake in a ton of cash.
.

.

Yeah, sure, the dude wanted the biggest contract in recording history and even put out a press release soon after the 1992 deal was signed. One of his chefs said that he still was obsessing over that in the late 2000s when Madonna did her 360 deal.

.

Oh, and there's the repeated "number one at the bank" statements.

.

Even the recent New Yorker piece points out his obsession with "getting paid".

.


Having said that, it would have been nice if WB had acknowledged this and shown the same faith in Prince / leniency in the early 90s that they did ten years prior. Had they have done so Prince may never have left and his career may not have spent so long in limbo in the years to come.

.

Dude, the label poured MILLIONS into PPR. They paid $1 million for TBA despite that deal becoming a clusterfuck: https://musicfans.stackex...a/3719/129 . They paid him millions to get out of the way of The Hits/The B-Sides. They allowed him to leave while he still owed them three records and only delivered two fairly rubbish ones: https://musicfans.stackex...a/2171/129 . They allowed him to veto tracks on later compilations.

.

[Edited 9/6/19 4:39am]

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It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
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Reply #18 posted 09/06/19 5:10am

VaultCurator

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BartVanHemelen said:

VaultCurator said:

His first passion was making music. Not being a star that could rake in a ton of cash.
.

.

Yeah, sure, the dude wanted the biggest contract in recording history and even put out a press release soon after the 1992 deal was signed. One of his chefs said that he still was obsessing over that in the late 2000s when Madonna did her 360 deal.

.

Oh, and there's the repeated "number one at the bank" statements.

.

Even the recent New Yorker piece points out his obsession with "getting paid".

.

.

Hi Bart.

.

You make good points, but I think you've misunderstood me. I didn't say that Prince didn't care about being a rich celeb. I said his first passion was making music. ie, that was his first priority. The guy woke up, ate breakfast, made music, repeatidly, for days on end, and sotred more than he could release in 3 lifetimes. Madonna doesn't do that.

.

That's why he wanted to give Undertaker away on the front of a magazine, or release Come and the Gold Experience within months of eachother.

Having said that, it would have been nice if WB had acknowledged this and shown the same faith in Prince / leniency in the early 90s that they did ten years prior. Had they have done so Prince may never have left and his career may not have spent so long in limbo in the years to come.

.

Dude, the label poured MILLIONS into PPR. They paid $1 million for TBA despite that deal becoming a clusterfuck: https://musicfans.stackex...a/3719/129 . They paid him millions to get out of the way of The Hits/The B-Sides. They allowed him to leave while he still owed them three records and only delivered two fairly rubbish ones: https://musicfans.stackex...a/2171/129 . They allowed him to veto tracks on later compilations.

.

[Edited 9/6/19 4:39am]

.

With regards to Hits / B-Sides, that's kind of my point. They paid him to stay clear of his Greatest Hits project. They paid him for an album that he didn't really want to release. They put Gold on a year long hiatus. It's a far cry from 'Sure, go make a movie. We'll bank roll it'. They seemed to dick him around a lot in the early 90s and showed him leniency when it came to getting rid of him.

RIP EXTRALOVEABLE!!! sad
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Reply #19 posted 09/06/19 5:24am

BartVanHemelen

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VaultCurator said:

They put Gold on a year long hiatus.

.

They didn't, Prince did. Note that Warners wanted to release NPG's Exodus in Summer 1995, but requested that Prince refrained from dispariging comments in interviews. Of course, Prince badmouthed them pretty soon...

.

TGE was part of the TBA deal originally (see my link above) but of course Prince broke that. Then further negotiations about TGE were delayed due to the numerous changes in Warners management.

.

See also https://prince.org/msg/7/106445 for a timeline:

.

25th October 1994

Prince signs an agreement with Warner Bros. to release the Black Album. The release was instigated by the record label whose publicist Bob Merlis said that they had 'wanted to put it out for years.' The initial deal proposed to Prince provided for Warner Bros. to pay Prince $4 million upfront for the relase of the Black Album in November 1995 and The Gold Experience in early 1995. The deal further stipulated that Prince would record a soundtrack to a to-be-determined Warner Bros. film. The three-album deal would count as two albums toward the remaining four albums of Prince's contract. Prince's attorney was en route to the record company to pick up the cheque and sign off on the papers when Prince had a last-minute change of mind about the deal, ostensibly about wanting more money. The attorney advised him that it was a very good deal and he would not be able to get more moeny from the label. The deal was subsequently cancelled and Prince's attorney quit a week later. As a replacement, Prince hired a 28-year-old New York attorney named L. Londell McMillan , whom has remained with him ever since. He was the sixth attorney he had used since he signed with Warner Bros.

The discussions coincided with a turnover in Warner Bros.' top management, with Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin leaving the record company, which restricted their power to make deals. Still, they were able to rescue the Black Album from the original three-album deal. Prince received approximatgely $1 million. However, discussions about the release of The Gold Eperience had to be postponed until early 1995 when the new Warner Bros. regime had moved in.

.

[...]

.

12 May 1995


Prince meets with Warner Bros.' new top management. The record company had undergone a massive corporate restructuring since late 1994. Mo Ostin had more or less been forced to retire, which prompted Lenny Waronker to resign in protest. Both were big Prince supporters who had been with him since his label signing in 1977. Prince took an almost immediate disliking to the new corporate honchos, led by new head Danny Goldberg, whom he felt didn't understand him or his music. The meeting led Prince and Warner Bros. to settle their differences, at least for the time being. They reached an agreement that he would stop disparaging the company in public and they would release The NPG's Exodus later in the year. A release date for The Gold Experience was also set, September 12th 1995.

.

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Reply #20 posted 09/06/19 5:36am

VaultCurator

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My face is red, I stand corrected

RIP EXTRALOVEABLE!!! sad
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Reply #21 posted 09/06/19 6:24am

lurker316

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PeggyO said:

laytonian said:

The second contract had already been signed when he opened for the Rolling Stones on Oct 9, 1981. His fourth album (Controversy) was released on Oct 14, 1981 (five days later).

Facts matter.

I don't think he had stage fright on American Bandstand; he was being cheeky per Dez. D. His aloof manner was pre-planned.

He had stage-fright or awkwardness at the Capri theater earlier and the label wanted him to get more seasoned before touring.



I've heard different people who were close to Prince at that time give different explanations for his behavior on American Bandstand. Some, like Dez, claim it was intentional. But others, like Pepe Willie, say Prince had stage freight and the whole “he was being cheeky” was made up after the fact to save face.

There’s no way to know the truth for certain, but I tend to believe it was stage freight.
Think of it this way: The people claiming Prince was intentionally trying to increase his mystique have a reason to lie – to protect Prince from embarrassment. But the people claiming it was stage freight don’t have any reason to lie – they aren’t his enemies looking to embarrass him – they’re his friends. Therefore, they probably wouldn’t say it unless it was true. I realize that's not dispositive and I'm not claiming I can prove my point -- I'm just explaining why I give more weight to one side than the other.



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Reply #22 posted 09/06/19 7:44am

BartVanHemelen

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There's more @ https://princevswarners.b...-gold.html WRT the timeline, including:

.

In early 1995, prince offered the new board on Warner Bros. a live-set that along with the release of The Gold Experience would fulfill his contract, after which he would release an acoustic set called Heart on NPG Records. However, prince would not allow Warner Bros. to keep the master tapes for The Gold Experience, so no deal was made.

.

© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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Reply #23 posted 09/06/19 8:32am

Morgaine

PeggyO said:



lurker316 said:




skywalker said:


So, here's the deal:


--


Prince didn't have many complaints about the early part of his career/time with Warner Bros. His issues stemmed from what went on with them in the late 80's, and even more so in the early 90's.





Right, he got upset with them in the '90s after they gave him a $100 million contract. I should have included that on my list of exceptional things Warner Bros. did for him.

Another thing I should have included was Warner Bros. indulging his capricious nature and pulling the Black Album at the last minute.

His big gripe in the late '80s was Warners refusal to release triple albums and multiple albums within a year, correct? That's understandable.





Didn't he need to meet a sales "quota" per album for that $100 million contract to be in play?


It seems Prince really could not have met that criteria using past album sales as a benchmark.




Yes, he needed to meet a quota for sales for each album issued under the contract. He was also upset he couldn't use what was in the vault/past recordings. Most of all, he was upset that WB would not give him the masters to past, present, or future recordings.
Those, along with wanting to release more music every year was the crux of the dispute.
The kind of love that takes over your body, mind, & soul
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Reply #24 posted 09/06/19 2:18pm

SoulAlive

Prince could be a difficult person to work with smile There was nothing wrong with that deal.He should have accepted it.

BartVanHemelen said:

25th October 1994

Prince signs an agreement with Warner Bros. to release the Black Album. The release was instigated by the record label whose publicist Bob Merlis said that they had 'wanted to put it out for years.' The initial deal proposed to Prince provided for Warner Bros. to pay Prince $4 million upfront for the relase of the Black Album in November 1995 and The Gold Experience in early 1995. The deal further stipulated that Prince would record a soundtrack to a to-be-determined Warner Bros. film. The three-album deal would count as two albums toward the remaining four albums of Prince's contract. Prince's attorney was en route to the record company to pick up the cheque and sign off on the papers when Prince had a last-minute change of mind about the deal, ostensibly about wanting more money. The attorney advised him that it was a very good deal and he would not be able to get more moeny from the label. The deal was subsequently cancelled and Prince's attorney quit a week later. As a replacement, Prince hired a 28-year-old New York attorney named L. Londell McMillan , whom has remained with him ever since. He was the sixth attorney he had used since he signed with Warner Bros.

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Reply #25 posted 09/06/19 3:07pm

feeluupp

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Morgaine said:

PeggyO said:

Didn't he need to meet a sales "quota" per album for that $100 million contract to be in play?

It seems Prince really could not have met that criteria using past album sales as a benchmark.

Yes, he needed to meet a quota for sales for each album issued under the contract. He was also upset he couldn't use what was in the vault/past recordings. Most of all, he was upset that WB would not give him the masters to past, present, or future recordings. Those, along with wanting to release more music every year was the crux of the dispute.

Like I stated many times, after the commercial success of D&P which to date sold over 7 million, and at the time of the new contract D&P sold over 5 million... D&P commercial success was largely due to the calculated promotion by the new WB PR department and the suggestion that they hire MJ's former manager, Frank Dileo.

It worked very well because it became his second biggest selling album behind Purple Rain. As WB saw the sales figures for D&P selling strong in a year and generation shift where the most popular music was the rise of gangster rap, new jack swing and grundge, Prince still was relevant for that time, especially with sales over 5 million.

The problem is WB was expecting that to be a constant with Prince, the calculated marketing, promotion etc... Low and behold, when he promoted the Love Symbol album in 1992 he went back to his old ways, firing Frank Dileo when Frank and Prince had a disagreement on how the first single should be 7 but he wanted My Name Is Prince instead, Prince started promoting the Love Symbol album "HIS WAY" once again, many Paisley Park specials, and besides the Arsenio Hall performances which was mainstream at the time, his promotion did little to nothing for that album, it didn't surpass the 5 million that WB had required, it sold 2 million world wide, and with that sealed the deal that the contract was no longer practical or logisictal for Prince to maintain those sales of 5 million per album.

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Reply #26 posted 09/07/19 9:33pm

Dalia11

cool
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Reply #27 posted 09/07/19 9:47pm

PeggyO

He did seem awkward but it seemed he had a couple of rudimentary come-backs like making What-his-name wait for the answer to "how many instruments do you play?" and his kind of slightly annoyed look when"Of all places, you live in Minnesota? was mentioned. I just see him trying to start to control the narrative but in an unpolished way. He was likely nervous but a little cocky (IMO).

I feel Pepe wanted him to be friendlier and more conciliatory.

lurker316 said:

PeggyO said:

I don't think he had stage fright on American Bandstand; he was being cheeky per Dez. D. His aloof manner was pre-planned.

He had stage-fright or awkwardness at the Capri theater earlier and the label wanted him to get more seasoned before touring.



I've heard different people who were close to Prince at that time give different explanations for his behavior on American Bandstand. Some, like Dez, claim it was intentional. But others, like Pepe Willie, say Prince had stage freight and the whole “he was being cheeky” was made up after the fact to save face.

There’s no way to know the truth for certain, but I tend to believe it was stage freight. Think of it this way: The people claiming Prince was intentionally trying to increase his mystique have a reason to lie – to protect Prince from embarrassment. But the people claiming it was stage freight don’t have any reason to lie – they aren’t his enemies looking to embarrass him – they’re his friends. Therefore, they probably wouldn’t say it unless it was true. I realize that's not dispositive and I'm not claiming I can prove my point -- I'm just explaining why I give more weight to one side than the other.



[Edited 9/7/19 21:51pm]

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Reply #28 posted 09/08/19 9:30am

jdcxc

lurker316 said:


I understand Prince's objections to Warner Bros. owning the masters to his music. And I appreciate there were likely other behind the scenes issues that Prince had legitimate complaints about.

But isn't it reasonable to argue that Warner Bros. treated Prince extremely well? In fact, couldn't you argue that they treated him better than they'd treated just about any other artist?

1.) When he was a completely unknown 18-year old novice, they gave him a 3-album contract with complete artistic control. He had a co-producer on this first album, but otherwise the artistic freedom was legit. It was incredibly rare in the '70s for any artists, even established artists, to have true artistic control? Even the Beatles had a producer.

2.) Out of his first three albums he had only one mildly successful Top 40 hit (I Wanna Be Your Lover). Furthermore, he embarrassed the label by getting stage-fright on American Bandstand, and he was booed off the stage when opening for the Rolling Stones. Many labels wouldn't have given him a second contract, but Warner Bros. did. They believed him (partly because of the critical acclaim of Dirty Mind).

3.) Back when vinyl was king, record labels typically allowed only big name artists with built-in fan bases to release double LPs. That's because the cost of production (more material, more packaging, more shipping) was difficult to recoup. Usually labels only took chances on double LPs for artists with a minimum floor for sales. Yet Warner Bros. agreed to let Prince, who at that point still hadn't found commercial success, release the double LP 1999.

4.) Next Prince asks Warner Bros. to help him make a movie. Granted, at that point Prince was a star based on success of 1999, but rock movies rarely did well at the box office. Even the Beatles movies underperformed. So making a rock movie, even one with a hot up-and-comer, was still taking a chance. To make it an even bigger risk, the movie Prince wanted to make wasn't a feel-good movie with an heroic protagonist. Nope. Instead the star of the movie would be a selfish, control-freak, domestic abusing jerk. To make the movie even darker, his dad would commit suicide. The fact that Warner Bros. agreed to this (with the exception of saying that dad needs to live) shows that they were willing to bend over backwards for Prince.

5.) The record industry model was to release new albums from an artist every two or three years, to milk as much money as possible out of their latest release and not over-saturate the market. This was especially true for major hit records -- you didn't want to cut their sales short by releasing a new record and making them seem like old news. Yet despite the Purple Rain album still selling in droves, a mere year later Warner Bros. agreed to Prince's demand to release a new album (Around the World in the Day). An album, mind you, that was likely to alienate much of the casual audience because it went in a new musical direction.






You act as if Prince was a charity case...Pleeze. WB made tons of $ off his music and crazy productivity/work ethic. And his self contained production style was so innovative as a business model that it helped move the industry from big bands to producer driven acts (more profitable).

WB shud’ve treated one of their historic premiere talents well. They will continue to reap profits from his catalog FOREVER.
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Reply #29 posted 09/08/19 11:19am

BartVanHemelen

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jdcxc said:


WB made tons of $ off his music and crazy productivity/work ethic.

.

They made really great money from one album, great money from a couple of others, and the rest were so-so to negligable. But that took a fuckload of work. Whereas a single Madonna album would reap immediate rewards for not just weeks but years. And her vanity label actually produced massive sales for several of its acts, whereas PPR was a moneypit.

.


WB shud’ve treated one of their historic premiere talents well.

.

They did. He spent his entire three-album advance on his first album and they still gave him studio time and renewed his contract and gave him opportunities WRT The Time, Vanity 6, Sheila E.,... They gave him a movie, and then another one, and then allowed him to go outside of WB for the SOTT movie. They withdrew an album that was being shipped to stores, an album that was supposed to be a secret release.

.


They will continue to reap profits from his catalog FOREVER.

.

Except for the soundtrack albums they'll lose everything else to Sony/Legacy in 2021. (Though I wouldn't be surprised if they've gotten another deal in return, e.g. WRT first refusal rights for upcoming Vault releases).

© Bart Van Hemelen
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