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Prince has a message for all aspiring artists — don’t sign with a major label.

The legendary artist spoke with a small number of reporters at Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis Saturday evening, and he compared record label contracts to slavery, NPR reports. The comment elicited shock from many in the media, but Prince says the correlation isn’t as harsh as people may think.

“Record contracts are just like — I’m gonna say the word – slavery,” Prince said. “I would tell any young artist … don’t sign.”

The artist has had his fair share of label experience throughout his storied career. He’s also had to deal with copyright suits over platforms like YouTube releasing his music without permission. The singer says this is why self-preservation is important in the music industry. Since young artists are unaware of how the business works, they’re ignored when it comes to the label using their music through multiple steaming services and other platforms.

He also defended Jay Z’s streaming service TIDAL, suggesting that more companies should be paying artists for their music. Prince’s own next album, HITNRUN, will be exclusively released through the service.

“Once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves,” he said. “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.”

Public scrutiny over TIDAL’s initial cost and flashy display of label-signed artists overshadowed its debut this year, but Prince says he will continue to advocate for the service because of the freedom it provides to artists.



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