PRINCE the Entrepreneur

Prince will always be known as a legendary musician but he was also a successful entrepreneur. He started out as many artists do, signing a contract with a mega recording label. A few years later he turned into a superstar and he regretted working for a record label that controlled his music and his brand.

Before he was able to break away he made a bold statement appearing in public with “slave” written on his face, feeling enslaved to the label and wanting everyone to know it. Prince split from Warner Bros. in the 1990s and Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the fourth-boldest move in rock history. He wanted to control how his music was released and distributed and to own his masters.

He changed his name to a symbol because the record label trademarked his name “Prince.” This was his rebellious way to show the label he could take control of his own brand. The symbol had media challenges and the media began to refer to him as “the artist formerly known as Prince.”

When Prince changed his name many did not realize the meaning behind it. I didn’t even know what it was about until years later and then what seemed to be madness was actually rebellious and genius, I became a bigger fan of his spirit knowing he was trying to break free of the chains of corporate and become an entrepreneur.

“A strong spirit transcends rules!”

He truly was a genius!

Most artists who are blessed with such talent do not take the risk to learn the business side with the sense to even run their own business. He has transcended the music business with many artists following his lead today.

The entrepreneurs of the past had to work hard for an audience. YouTube and Twitter did not exist, growing an audience was physically demanding it required long tours on the road to acquire raving fans. Remember the days of the door to door sales man? Well maybe you don’t, but they existed, and it was a tough gig. Today, as entrepreneurs, gaining raving fans is far less physically demanding and can be done from the comfort of your home on a computer.

Entrepreneurs still work hard to build their fans today, but the fact of the matter is, we work even harder to keep our raving fans “engaged.” What can we learn from artists like Prince to gain the longevity and uniqueness he built to maintain a successful business and a career?

PRINCE History Lesson

To truly grasp the analogy of your life to a superstar’s life like Prince, you must understand how he became an entrepreneur and how his business decisions were ground breaking in an industry that is ran by mega recording labels corporations.

What makes him unique among the other superstars is he realized that his brand and music were being compromised at the hands of the record label and made a bold stance.

This may have stifled his popularity to grow even bigger when he broke away from his contract, but he stayed true to himself and gained freedom away from the clenches of big corporate.

He was born, raised and died in Minneapolis. He was named Prince Rogers Nelson in June of 1958. He secured a recording contract with Warner Bros. at the age of 18. At the age of 20 his album went platinum. He released his album Purple Rain in 1984 which later became the sound track to his blockbuster film of the same name.

Prince changed his name to a symbol due to the record label trademarking his name and all related music. His new brand with a symbol created logistical challenges for the news media in how to reference the symbol in media releases and interviews. This is when the media referred to him as “the artist formerly known as Prince.” When his record contract expired in 1999 he announced he was reclaiming his given name and party like it was …. which allowed Prince to become Independent and control his own recording business and reclaim his brand as PRINCE.

Prince became one of the first artists to sell his album online and won a Webby Lifetime Achievement award for “visionary use of the Internet to distribute music.” He continued to produce his own independent label and bundled LPs with concert tickets and newspapers.

A visionary, an entrepreneur, a pioneer.

He was not afraid to get out of his comfort zone and make a new path that no one had been down before.

Some say that Prince damaged his career by stepping out on his own. In interviews he would disagree, because he had the freedom to do what he wanted with his music. His career in music may have produced smaller profits and audiences without the support of the big label, but he was his own artist and controlled his own destiny. He didn’t share the profits with the record label anymore either, after all, how many millions of dollars do you need to be happy?

Is Bigger Better?

A bigger name, a bigger bank account, more fans, less privacy. Bigger can be less rewarding if you are not prepared mentally and physically for the demands. For me, I would rather have a smaller audience that engages with my efforts than a bigger audience that does nothing. Take social media as an example: If you had 100,000 Twitter followers with only 10 percent engaged and only 1 percent buying, compared to 10,000 followers with 60 percent engaged and 40 percent purchasing, which would matter most to you?

Engaged Buyer

When you see a Twitter account with followers over 100k and the account is not a celebrity or big name, it usually indicates followers are acquired through various services which are paid to acquire followers. A solid strategy will focus on engagement as being more important than acquiring fans. It’s better for your analytic reports to show a higher engaged audience and buyer rather than a larger total number of followers. Focus on engagement in social media, especially if you plan on selling your business as an exit strategy, your business will show more worth.

As your audience grows the percentage of engagement drops, they are just numbers, but more importantly… do they count?  Your bottom line is what pays the bills and buys the luxuries in life. Be passionate, like Prince about your talents and efforts, don’t get caught up in the numbers unless they count, analyze what matters.

Prince Twitter Post

Prince tweeted an invite to his fans the day of his dance party. It’s as if he were calling up his closest friends to say, come on over!

How do you engage your raving fans to purchase?

Prince engaged with his fans through every performance. He gave gratitude and was humbled in the presence of his audience. Some of you may think how can acquiring knowledge and giving gratitude engage an audience? Knowledge/talent and persona are the only attributes that transcends digital media. When you share your knowledge and show gratitude for your audience you will not only grow an audience but you will sustain an audience. What vibe are you giving off in social media?

When you are humbled and give gratitude for your fans you gain loyalty and longevity. Make a weekly effort to engage with your fans on social media, try a fan appreciation day and offer something free or discounted for social media fans only.

Get your priorities straight and connect with others and it will pay off, don’t focus on the $$, it will follow when you show you care about your fans.

Prince was unique in his brand, his music and his relationships, it separated him from other artists. He was never willing to compromise his artistry for fame or money. His talents go far beyond his gift of music.  How he maintained a relationship with raving fans is how he defined success. His connection with his audience and his desire to give back to them, made him magnificent.

Be magnificent!

Contributing Author

Melody Tune is the founder and strategic leader at DesignWrx Digital MarketingZiglar Legacy Certified Trainer

Melody Tune image

A digital marketing strategist with 20 years of experience working in corporate and she has owned over 100 websites. An author and a Certified Ziglar Legacy Coach who shares inspiration and helps you take the short cut in figuring it out. She has helped individuals, sales teams, and organizations to succeed with their digital marketing efforts and websites. She has worked with Fortune 100 and 500 clients and currently helps entrepreneurs get started or move to the next level with online branding, social media campaigns, digital marketing, blogging and websites. As a former graphic designer she has a keen eye for visual communications with strategies that work!

“Be intentional when setting goals focusing on significance”
~Melody Tune
Online Business Coach


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