Find the complete catalogue on Tidal

If a musician recorded a song and it is not found on social media and popular streaming services, did the song make a sound in this online age?

The answer is yes, if the musician is Prince, because he was already a legend before he decided to withdraw his music last year from all streaming services that users could access for free - including Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora.

He had also taken extensive legal measures against users of his music on YouTube. Unlike most artists, no official Prince music video exists on YouTube. The late musician took this stance against online platforms because he decried the profits technology companies were making at the expense of artists.

But fans can still access his music online - if they pay.

Options for fans to listen to The Purple One are limited to iTunes and Amazon, and music-streaming service Tidal, which does not offer free access.

Tidal Premium costs $9.99 a month, while Tidal HiFi, which offers high-fidelity sound quality, costs $19.99 a month.

Tidal, the subscription-only service owned by music mogul Jay Z, has the entire Prince catalogue - from 1978's For You to last year's HITnRUN Phase One and Two. The exclusive availability of his music on Tidal is a classic Prince move.

The New York Times reported that he experimented early with online sales and distribution of his music, but eventually turned against what he saw as technology companies' exploitation of musicians.

Tidal claims to pay the highest percentage of royalties to artists and songwriters in the music- streaming market.

Prince had also tried guerilla distribution tactics. Rather than release his 2007 album, Planet Earth, through traditional channels, he gave away free CDs with copies of The Daily Mail in Britain. According to Time magazine, almost three million people picked up copies.


Anjali Raguraman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Find the complete catalogue on Tidal'. Print Edition | Subscribe