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Prince: ‘Record Contracts are Just Like… Slavery’

Prince had some words of warning for those trying to break into the music business during a meeting with a small group of journalists this weekend.

“Record contracts are just like – I’m gonna say the word – slavery,” the Purple One reportedly told a group from the National Association of Black Journalists on Saturday at his Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis. “I would tell any young artist … don’t sign.”

Hundreds of journalists from the NABJ, in Minneapolis for their annual convention, headed to Prince’s massive recording complex on Saturday night for what was billed as a dance party.

But the musician himself did not perform at the gathering. Instead, he reportedly gave a short, seconds-long speech plugging his new album, “HitNRun,” that will be released September 7 on Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal.

According to the Wrap, most assumed the musician would perform for the group, as there were strict rules not to record or take photos of the festivities, and attendees had to register online in advance and pay a $20 cover fee.

But Prince reportedly made his album pitch, and that was it. According to the Star Tribune, the musician had previously spent 45 minutes huddled with ten reporters including NPR’s Eric Deggans, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and KCBS Radio’s Bob Butler.

Deggans wrote that Prince discussed the state of the music industry with the select group of reporters, including the rationale behind making his album available exclusively on Tidal.

“Once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves,” Deggans quotes Prince as saying during the meeting, though the reporters were barred from recording or even taking notes of the conversation. “Jay-Z spent $100 million of his own money to build his own service. We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”

As for the party, the DJ played just two Prince songs, both from the musician’s forthcoming album. Instead, attendees reportedly danced to classics from Luther Vandross and Digital Underground while eating mac-and-cheese and picking up T-shirts at a merchandise booth.

Still, some reporters were upset that there was very little Prince at what was ostensibly a Prince-hosted event.

“I’m pissed. I want my money back,” said the Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary, according to the Wrap. “I feel bad for the local chapter [of the NABJ]. I thought it was a little disrespectful to come out and say ‘Buy my album.’ It just confirms what we hear about artists being selfish. I will not buy his album.”

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