Words from The Scumfrog:
I thought I was done crying when I woke up this morning, but as I see some carefully selected memories on my newsfeed from fellow Prince fanatics, it all starts over again. I am mourning this loss like no one I ever lost before, and that is weird because I fundamentally do not believe in the concept of 'loss'.
Also, even though I have been a huge fan since the very beginning, I have never met Prince. More importantly, he never changed my diapers, he didn't take me to Disney Land, and he never told me he loved me (yes, that would have been awkward, but you get my point). So I am mostly sitting here confused why this is hitting me so hard.
His passing is tragic and sad, but I can handle tragedy and sadness on individual levels. I could handle Bowie's passing --even though it was emotional and thought provoking-- and I am not messed up about the fact that Prince 'the person' died.
What hits me the hardest about his early death, is that I have been hoping for decades that someone would come along on this planet that could carry his torch. Someone who possesses the holy trinity of commercial appeal, credibility, and extraordinary talent. Occasionally it looked like someone would be able to rise to the occasion. First there was D'Angelo who has Prince's talent but lacks his work ethic, and then came Lady Gaga who also has Prince's talent (non-believers watch this: https://youtu.be/7Jz_lVx2Sj0
) but she entered the industry stage on such a commercial pop-level that it will take a long time for her to establish the credibility that propelled Prince into a higher realm than any of his peers. And on the other end of the spectrum are countless super talented artists who either lack, or defy, the commercial viability to ever break into the mainstream.
The most depressing realization about the lack of main-stage successors, is that there is no patience in our current music industry to cultivate and nurture the credibility required to reach the level of artistry on which Prince operated. In the 90s, Prince went to war with his label Warner Brothers because he felt a 'slave' to their industry. And although he had some very valid reasons to do so, the mentality of major labels towards artists has become so much worse since then, that in hindsight and by comparison, '80s Warner Music' wasn't all that bad. The current music industry is much worse now than it was then, and can be compared to the fishing industry: There is such desperation from the industry to create instant revenue, that we catch and consume new product before it can fully develop, grow, and spawn. We farm-raise the product rather than letting it develop in the wild, destroying the entire eco system, and worst of all, abandoning, lowering, and forgetting the standards that drew us to this industry in the fist place.
Fisheries aside, Prince was always aware of this shift in the music industry, and he maintained in control of his talent and his product until the day he died. He never allowed anyone to alter or meddle in his music, and defiantly refused any commercial company a free ride with his music. As the industry changed into a different model with digital uploads, music sharing, and streaming, Prince responded at every turn by closing himself and his catalog off to all the platforms that try to convince artists that they should be 'lucky' to be featured, even when there is no revenue involved. In this process his empire became increasingly smaller and harder to access.
His death comes at the moment when 99% of all new music has moved to platforms that fail to produce revenue for artists. The new reality is that all music has become disposable, and all artists have to adapt to this reality. Prince refused to adapt, and stuck to his own reality until the end, even when it meant that his new music is not featured on the platforms where most of us get our daily fixes. This is why it might be a good thing for his legacy that he died earlier than we would have liked him to. Because even though he managed to stay in business using a counter-intuitive business model, he would probably not have been able to sustain that model much longer. Sure, he would have never been poor, but he would eventually have to concede that his business approach wasn't working, and that he himself could not sustain his own global relevance. His death yesterday means that he never had to face that reality, and that he basically 'won' in every element of his career, even during a rapidly changing industry. He rose to the top, he deserved to be there, the entire world wanted him to be there, and he stayed there until he died. Perhaps this is how his story ought to be, no matter how sad we feel today, and how much we yearn for a mainstream artist to fill the void that he leaves behind.
Prince's feet may be tiny, but his shoes are almost impossible to fill. Prince doesn't play music, he IS music. He doesn't play instruments, he IS instruments. But yet, his passing leaves an empty throne. With this vacancy in mind, hopefully young artists will be extra motivated and inspired to achieve the excellence that Prince showed us for 35 years.
I will be on the lookout.