Back in 1985, Tipper Gore founded the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), which eventually led to those “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” labels we all know and love.
What set her off?
She heard the song Darling Nikki by Prince.
Now, while that tune is certainly provocative, who knows how poor Tipper would have reacted if she had first heard Let’s Pretend We’re Married from Prince’s earlier album 1999, or pretty much any song from 1980’s Dirty Mind. And what must she think of some of today’s music, which makes Prince look tame in comparison?
Meanwhile, today Prince is still blowing the roof off of packed stadiums, based largely on the one constant in his career—musical genius.
These days, his show is purely PG-13, with no warning stickers required. He doesn’t play Darling Nikki anymore, nor does he even curse.
The fact is, Prince has always been a marketing genius as well as a musical prodigy. He knew to juke when everyone else was jiving; zig when the crowd was zagging.
Here’s the man himself on his early approach:
Times were different back then,” Prince explains. “I wouldn’t stand out today if I was brand-new and came like that. But see, back then nobody else was doing that, and I knew that would get me over. I didn’t dress like anybody, I didn’t look like anybody, I didn’t sound like anybody. We still try to do that. Why do what everybody else is doing?
“Bowie and Madonna, even if it wasn’t good, we still talk about it because it was something new. That’s a beautiful word.”
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Reader Comments (30)
That brought back some fond memories Thanks
That’s why we always ignored bloggers who would create rules of blogging. Don’t do this, do that. Right. So we can all look alike. Not for us. We just went with our passion and said let’s see what happens. And that’s worked out fine for us. Besides, the medium is too young to define. Innovation comes from playing outside the lines. Always look to try new things. You might stumble on something truly unique.
Steve Olson says
I’ve been planning a blog post for a while…
But I was afraid…
I think this settles the issue…
I’ll do it…
Let’s see what happens…
Sometimes being new is no more complicated than being interesting. The same-old design with the same old-CMS can become the most amazing blog in the blogosphere with the right author at its helm.
Good content, frequent updates and a unique story-telling ability will go just as far as “new” in the right hands.
Now if only I get harness a little bit of that…
Say No to Crack says
Tipper is probably hiding under her organic bed linens with today’s songs. I find it amusing that they won’t let kids buy some music from stores, and put warning labels on them, when the same kids can listen to the same song on the radio with barely obfuscated lyrics. Or even better, they can logon to YouTube, or MySpace, or iTunes, etc. and watch the exact same video.
By the same token though, these crass and ‘new’ songs become old and hackneyed quick. The new ‘new’ is small, independant, irreverent, and constantly changing – whether you’re talking music, videos, or blogs. This type of ‘new’ makes it far harder to become a Prince or Madonna, but far easier to become your own little superstar amongst your own audience. For us little guys, you gotta love it.
I approach newness by trying to always do something different. Hopefully my silly (all ages appropriate) humor blog (Say No to Crack) reflects this, but if not … feel free to come on over and chew me out. 😉
The Zen of SEO says
It pays to stand out from the crowd and think out of the box. It’s safe to do what everyone is doing. It takes an unique courage to be an independent thinker, and do what YOU think is right.
John Richardson says
The thing I find so interesting about blogging is that you never know what will be popular. The more I think I know the more surprised I have become.
If there is any common denominator I would say it would be like a speech. Have a clever title, a strong opening, good content, and finish it up with a bang. And be a little like Paul Harvey… keep them guessing… with the rest of the story!
That’s good work BC.
How many years from now will we be asking the same thing about today’s Prince(ss) ?
I tried it just now.
BTW – Thanks for the flashback to my youth.
I thought it has something about rebranding from Prince to TAFKAP.
It’s worth noting that Prince’s change in attitude regarding swearing is linked to his relatively recent change in religion. I don’t think he stopped swearing for marketing reasons.
Also, to give him full credit, Prince didn’t use swearing as an exclamation mark in the way that many rappers do. Even when causing offence, he was creative with language and ideas. In Darling Nikki, it’s the scene that can cause offence rather than any gratuitous use of bad language.
Prince uses theatrics to get people’s attention, but there was always something of substance underneath it all. There was always fresh thinking and it was creatively expressed. I think that’s the key lesson for bloggers – by all means promote yourself, but make sure you’ve got something worth promoting first.
It’s pretty simple stuff – it’s such a cluttered market out there. It doesn’t matter if you offend some people – what we all need to do with our marketing is elicit a strong emotional reaction.
Preferably positive (!). And you won’t do that by being safe and conservative.
You have to stand for something.
Just like Al Gore does now (just a fraction late!).
>>I thought it has something about rebranding from Prince to TAFKAP.
Heh… no, that’s “What Prince Can Teach You About Getting Out of a Record Contract.” 🙂
Michael Stelzner says
Used to LOVE his music.
But I hate to say it, most things are not new.
Being a genius is something many of us are incapable of.
Take any media and only a very few will stand out. Oprah, Letterman, O’Reily, …
The rest of us can succeed, but maybe without all the attention.
So how can we be “new”?
I’m on board, Brian. We’re renaming Media Orchard the “Blog Formerly Known as Media Orchard”
Simple but effective concept, and perhaps often overlooked.. Inovative Ideas and thinking are a good thing for any blog.. Good Post, thanks
Thanks for the reinforcement of what I’ve always believed is the biggest problem for people who are not making a success with an online business…. innovation.
Great post. Appreciate the Prince illustration… I personally liked ‘1999’.
I’ve said this before, but I love your combining the arts with principles of blogging. Thanks!
About something new—that’s so true. We stumbled upon a new way to drive traffic to blogs (we created a central hub to entertainingly list contests hosted by bloggers) and it’s simply exploding.
In just four weeks we’ve been interviewed twice, once for a book, once for a website, was contacted by NBC Universal, approved by blogads, have people linking to our site every day plus lots of excitement from the blogging community.
Yea for new!
Get outta my head!
Prince has always been on my list of ‘creative heroes’ because he is always in the studio producing. Bad songs, good songs, great songs… he is always experimenting and always producing. And I love his singular vision for the same reason I love Hitchcock, Reznor, etc.
Oh and Tipper is an uptight prude. 2 Live Crew was much worse than Darling Nikki – and Nickelodeon compared to the faux-porn pop/hop that passes for art today.
If I ever have a strip club, Darling Nikki will be a staple. The way that song starts is so funky-hot-horny. My other favorite Prince bass line has to be Gett Off. And that reminds me of something James used to say… 🙂
Another funny thing is that songs with dirty lyrics often get played in non-English speaking countries as the words are not supervised as much – they go for the music over the lyrics.
This is what’s called thinking outside the box. I know of someone who has started a store (brick and Mortar) by selling store returns from Wal-mart, K-mart, and Target. Some of the items are damaged but can be repaired. He buys items by the pallet from these stores and resells them. No body else is doing this in this area and he makes a good living doing this.
Brett Hitchcock says
Prince is a child prodigy and born to do it. He had his lifes work written by the age of 17. I am glad that he has settled into a more pg rated show as it allows more people to enjoy him. I got some tickets to his show for free thinking expecting to be bored. Was I wrong, he played on stage for nearly 3 hours and the security had to kick him out. He then went to a local nightclub in town and played till 8am in the morning. It is that kind of massive output that brings success. Cheers.
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