March 18, 2017 at 2:38 am #1679
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Washington Post photo illustration. (Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty; iStock)
How Prince revolutionized the Internet — according to the webmaster who helped him do it
By Sam Jennings April 27, 2016
Sam Jennings is an artist and designer who worked as Prince’s webmaster and creative director from 1998 to 2007.
Unfortunately, the big headline everyone remembers about Prince and the Internet is when he said it was “over” in 2010. Many people with short memories used him as the poster boy for the old guard of musicians who “just don’t get it.”
But the reality is that Prince was a pioneer: Over 20 years ago, years before iTunes, iPods or broadband, he already understood that the Web would change the whole industry, and he had a vision for how fans would access his music through the Internet.
“Welcome 2 the Dawn, playground for the New Power Generation,” begins Prince’s 1994 song “Interactive.” “There are over 500 experiences to choose from. Here’s a sample. …”
The song kicked off his underground film, “The Beautiful Experience,” starring Nona Gaye. Don’t bother looking for it on Amazon, it was never officially released. It only got screened during special viewing parties across the United States.
I saw it in Chicago at the Park West, and my eyes lit up. Prince showed me songs I had never heard before, like “Pheromone” and “The Days of Wild,” with videos for all of them. This was the visual album 20 years before Beyoncé. And according to this film, you could only access the album through a computer, a computer with a “Come” button on its keyboard. This experience didn’t exist yet, but Prince’s vision of the future was clear. And I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
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