Prince vs Warner Brothers: Artist feud with Label

Published: 2021-09-29 06:15:03
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Category: Contract, Artists

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In today society different companies go through various contracts on a day to day basis; however, it is solely up to both companies or parties to ensure that the contract upon entering is in good standing and there after remains in good binding, As in the case of Prince Vs Warner Brothers. In the beginning it seems as though the contract was acceptable for both parties, however as the discrepancies unfold, it became clear that the contract was no longer valid. This created a huge problem for both parties. It has been observed that the dispute between Prince and Warner Brothers was about money and how often albums can be released.
Prince felt that the record label had too much control over his creativity. According to BET, The contract between Warner Brothers and Prince stated that Prince would receive a 10 million dollar advance with each album, however Warner Brothers reserve the right to pick which albums were released and on what time frame (BET). According to Orwall (1995), “In a nutshell: Prince has been frustrated that the company won't release his records more regularly. He produces the equivalent of three or four albums a year; the record company would rather have just one and milk it” (orwall, 1995).
As a method of retaliation, Prince took action by legally changing his name to the symbol 0{+;; as such, the legally given name prince remained under the control of Warner Brothers, therefore he was branded as the artist formally known as prince. After changing his name, the artist formally known as Prince released the most beautiful girl in the world on his own record label called NPG Records, therefore ignoring his contract with Warner Brothers. The feud continued as Prince publicly defied the contract between him and Warner Brothers.

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As a result Warner Brothers then took legal action by taking prince to court and forcing him to release the previously recorded black album. At that time Prince was obligated to do four more albums for Warner Brothers; Prince went into his catalog of unreleased music to complete the four albums he owed Warner Brothers. All his new material that he created after he changed his name, was under his NPG record label. While he carried out his remaining obligation to Warner Brothers, at every public appearance, Prince continued to retaliate by writing the word “slave” on his cheek (Orwall, 1995).
For a period of time prince did not play his own music. Benny Medina, VP of A;R for Warner Brothers at the time, believed that this was apart of his protest against the record label. “Prince was a really unique person who was not going to be very productive if he was not in a healthy place with the people he had to deal with. We got it; if you want to go, go! Lets just figure it out”, said Benny Medina in a BET documentary video (BET). In 1997 Prince ended his contract with Warner Brothers. In that same year he released his last album with the Label entitled Emancipation.
In the year 2000, after the publishing contract with Warner Brothers has ended he legally changed his name back to Prince (BET). Parties Interest It has always been a tradition for record labels to own the masters of the artist sign to the roster; after all, they are the ones spending millions of dollars to promote and market, as well as distribute the artist’s music. Evidently, Prince disagreed with this notion. Prince did not like the fact that the labels were able to decide when his album should be released, and which one of his albums they are going to release.
He also did not like the fact that they owned all his masters. “He had made a deal with the label, and he had been compensated incredibly well with millions upon millions of dollars,” said Michael Austin, Sr. VP of A;R for Warner Brothers (BET). Prince also did not like the fact that he had to comply with the regulations of the contract he had signed with the record label. Position of Parties During the dispute between Warner Brothers, Prince won the support of his fans as well as other artists.
He had several successful tours; the musicology tour is one of the most successful tours up to date. Clearly, Prince has become an icon and he was in a position where he did not need the record label to make money. He proved that he had the ability to sale records and the ability to promote tours without the help of Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers may have played apart in his success, but as Prince’s career blossomed, he realized that Warner Brothers were no longer necessary. So his actions were attempts to end the relationship between himself and Warner Brothers.
What went well? Fortunately for Prince, the label recognized his desire to end the contract and that he was no longer going to cooperate with the company until the term of the contract has expired. As a result, Warner Brothers executives felt that it was time to put an end to this on going feud. Prince was then free from all restraints of the record label. It was until the publishing contract between Prince and Warner Brothers ended, he started performing his old songs again. What went wrong? Unfortunately Warner Brothers and Prince could not renegotiate a contract that could have a mutual benefit outcome.
Prince could not own any of his masters he created during his term with Warner Brothers. As reiterated prince wanted more control of his creativity but Warner Brothers refused to give him such leverage over his work; prince then retaliated. In conclusion, a contract is only valid when both parties agree. If both parties disagree, it not only creates a conflict but also a huge problem between the individuals involved; therefore, it should be in the interest of both individual to ensure that before they enter into the contract, they must discuss all the fine prints in order to reach an amicable and mutual benefit.


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