Strategically Speaking: A Blog by Denha Media Group
Everyone seems to have a favorite Prince song, a memorable concert or if you’re lucky, a piece of signed memorabilia.
My sister Sandra had an actual Prince moment. It was the 80s, around the time Purple Rain hit the airwaves and movie theaters. Sandra was 20-something on vacation with some girlfriends. They headed to Hollywood and ended up at a hair salon on Rodeo Drive. While inside, they spotted Prince.
In her excitement, Sandra snapped a photo but not without his bodyguard noticing. He actually followed her out of the salon with who would become a multi-platinum-selling music legend who transcended genres and generations and demanded the camera. She, at first, resisted and then relinquished the camera. “Wait here,” said the body guard.
It was a camera that took film and needed to be developed. An hour later, he returned with her photos minus the ones she took of Prince.
I could only imagine how annoying it would be having people constantly take photos and videos of you every time you walk out of your house; but every celebrity at some point — regardless of the level of notoriety — needs to learn how to manage the media and engage the fans.
In 1985, the L.A. Times reported that two of Prince’s body guards were arrested after allegedly attacking two photographers who were trying to take pictures of the musician after his appearance at the American Music Awards.
His musical talent speaks for itself. The prolific artist put out roughly an album a year since 1978.
However, it is clear that back in 1980 when he was first starting out, Prince needed some media training. He made his TV debut on American Bandstand and it took a talented host like Dick Clark to hold that conversation together.
Even though he went on to produce music that has made him a legend, he never really managed the fan attention or the media interest.
It was reported that days before he died a fan saw him riding his bike near her house. She captured it on video from her phone even though he made it clear he didn’t like it. This time, neither he nor a body guard demanded her footage.
Prince had a love/hate relationship with technology, media reported. He embraced some social media and was even tweeting days before he died but he never had a solid relationship with outlets that wanted to put out his music on the internet. It was reported that Prince steered clear of iTunes and, later, streaming music services for the better part of a decade. He eventually allowed some music on streaming services; as of today, you can only find one Prince album, Hit n Run Phase 2, on Apple Music.
Although he was a music trend setter, he was not trending in technology. Not much of his work can be found online. “It has been truly odd watching people try to figure out how to mourn Prince online, given the scarceness of his work in that arena,” wrote an editor of the Pitch.
A writer from the Slog penned, “It will be no secret to anyone that Prince guarded his copyrights very closely. He was not into YouTube, deplored file sharing, and was wary of the streaming services.”
It wasn’t just about the right to hold onto his product and make more money on it than internet companies, which I cannot say I disagree with at all, but it was really about a private man living a very public life. A musician with a talent he obviously wanted to share but on his terms. He shared the music and shielded his life.
He was a music legend but not exactly media accessible.
All celebrities have to figure out the balance between their public and private lives. If I could narrow it down to one nugget, I would say this: if you give them something, they won’t chase you for everything.
Although Prince left a music legacy, it is absent from the internet; it’s probably exactly how he preferred it.
However, he left fans to mourn without being able to easily find – in media outlets – the music and the memories of the man.
Vanessa Denha Garmo is a communications strategist and the founder of Denha Media Group.