Lessons every author can take from Prince’s accomplishments
Damn, does it seem like Planet Earth is losing a lot of vastly talented artists lately! The most recent, of course, came with the shocking news that music legend Prince died today at his home in Minneapolis. One of the best comments I heard in the immediate aftermath of the announcement came from CNN’s Don Lemon, who said – and I’m paraphrasing here, “As sad as his loss is for everyone, I want to take this time to celebrate his immense accomplishments and all he gave to the world through his art.”
To that end, I’d like to celebrate Prince by reminding us all of the lessons we, as authors, can take from his accomplishments.
1. Prince was a champion of indie, through and through. “He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote ‘slave’ on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.”(1) I learned today that Prince accomplished what few musical artists do by finally taking ownership of his entire music catalogue.
2. He did it himself. “Prince recorded the great majority of his music entirely on his own, playing every instrument and singing every vocal line.”(2) This only works, of course, if you have the skills to do it all yourself. If you need help, definitely hire the right people!
3. Prince was “a wildly prolific songwriter”(2) – releasing four albums just in the last 18 months, alone.
4. He branded himself well. He often incorporated the color purple; for a while changed his name to a symbol; and used the letter U in place of “you” and an eye icon in place of “I” long before texting came into vogue.(2)
5. Prince was deliberately controversial. “He embraced controversy, presenting himself as an androgynous sex fiend in his album art and lyrics, and challenged conservative music ideals in his first decade on albums like 1999, Purple Rain and Sign O’ the Times.”(3)
6. He gave people value for their money. “He distributed albums to concertgoers along with their tickets when that was a novel concept, and he planned other tours at the spur of the moment, dubbing them ‘hit and run’ shows.”(3)
7. He supported other artists. “During the particularly productive time surrounding 1999, Prince also began writing and producing songs under the pseudonym Jamie Starr for two other groups, the local group the Time and a trio of women he assembled, Vanity 6.”(3)
8. He knew how important it was to be himself. “‘The most important thing is to be true to yourself, but I also like danger,’ Prince told [Los Angeles Times critic, Robert] Hilburn… . ‘That’s what is missing from pop music today. There’s no excitement and mystery – people sneaking out and going to these forbidden concerts by Elvis Presley or Jimi Hendrix.’”(4)
9. He used his own life as source material for his music and acting. “Prince’s music was steeped in the contradictions of his background – a black artist who toyed with his racial background in the casting of Purple Rain, sexually flamboyant and gender playful, with a Midwestern self-reliance that created space for his idiosyncrasies.”(4)
Life can be short. Don’t miss the opportunity to write your books, connect with your readers, support other authors, and share your personal story or message with the world!
Here’s to you, Prince Rogers Nelson!
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