Prince’s relationship with the Internet was a famously fraught one. Despite being critical of its effects on the music industry, the late icon was characteristically ahead of the curve; setting up official websites, online stores, and download managers years before they became the norm. In fact, over the last two decades of his life, the “Controversy” singer published nearly 20 variations of the classic ‘official website’ template – and most of them turned out to be eerily prescient of the way we use the web today.
Now, just two months after his tragic death in April, a new museum has been launched to honour this part of his legacy. The ‘Prince Online Museum’ – which opened officially today (July 4) – offers a full (and free) digital archive of the icon’s official online ventures.
“Prince launched nearly 20 different websites, maintained a dozen different social media presences, participated in countless online chats and directly connected with fans around the world,” site director Sam Jennings explains. “This Museum is an archive of that work and a reminder of everything he accomplished as an independent artist with the support of his vibrant and dedicated online community.”
Prince – who once called the Internet a “double-edged sword” – often incorporated innovative technology in his creative process. Despite this, he remained a fierce advocate for artists rights, and often expressed his worries about the harmful effects of Internet freedom on the music industry.
“Prince firmly established that an artist-owned online distribution business can be successful and build that connection between an artist and his audience without a middleman,” Jennings adds. “This is what freedom sounds like.”