Prince_at_Coachella_001Heart-broken fans of the late pop icon Prince have been complaining that they can’t find his stuff on YouTube and iTunes anymore.

One early report said his work came down the moment he died, as some kind of elaborate posthumous copyright control. But more recent reports indicate that Prince was simply not a fan of the digital revolution. As Digital Music News explains:

“Back in 2010, Prince famously declared that the internet was ‘completely over,’ but a few years later, reframed that comment in compensation terms. ‘What I meant was that the Internet was over for anyone who wants to get paid, and I was right about that,’ he clarified to the Guardian last year.”

Prince was also not a fan of “cherry-picking” and did not want customers buying just a single or a song. He believed that the album, as an art form, still mattered and was one of the few artists to outspokenly protect that. He was totally within his right to do so—but the consequence has been that grief-stricken fans looking to relive the glory days of his performances have had to turn to analog sources.

So what can book lovers learn from this? A lot, actually. I’m not a huge music person, and have not kept up with developments in music sales that much. But GalleyCat’s Dianna Dilworth has many details on the Prince situation and says he was notorious for keeping his work off of digital channels because he didn’t like the terms. Sound familiar? And she further says that it’s “pretty standard for new vinyl to come with a free MP3 download code today.” And yet publishers have not really embraced such a model.

But what if they did? Publishers have been using anti-customer tactics such as territorial restrictions, agency pricing and format windowing to try and keep unwilling customers purchasing the paper. But Dilworth points out that if they embraced the same model the music industry has, it might actually make people want to buy paper again. They could still read their books electronically. But they could also enjoy the digital download on the go. Dilworth speculates that such a twofer might actually be an incentive for customers to buy paper. Do you agree?

Photo credit: Here.

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