What’s in a name? A name is something that gives you an identity, and makes you who you are. However, there are some individuals out there who are so spectacular and well known that they don’t even need a name to go by. Sometimes, they only have to simply referred to as a symbol.
That’s right. A symbol, which is apparently is a cross between the male and female symbol, was what best-selling pop artist, Prince, chose to change his name to back in 1993. This wasn’t just an artistic change in direction that musicians go occasionally go through. This is a bold rebellion made towards his record label, Warner Bros, over a contract dispute.
It all started when Warner Bros, with whom he had signed a $100 million deal with less than a year before, approached the singer to tell him to release fewer CDs so that he wouldn’t saturate the market and they would have a more time to efficiently promote each album. This is Prince they are talking to! This is a musical genius that produces exceptional music at top speed, like a factory. This disruption would stifle his creativity and that will not fly with him.
So protest he did. Prince was seen in public with the word “Slave” written across his cheek, and proclaimed that Warner Bros took his name, trademarked it, and used it as marketing tool to promote his music. A signed contract is a signed contract, so the singer should’ve been obligated to follow through with the record label’s request. However, one loophole he found that the contract was made out to the name “Prince Roger Nelson.” Therefore, only “Prince” would have to fulfill that obligation.
That was when the singer chose to go by the “Love symbol.” If Price had to be trapped in a major label contract where creativity is suppressed, then the Love symbol will be his freedom outlet. The Love symbol can release as many songs as he wants however fast he wants.
Twisting the knife deeper into Warner Bros’ back, the singer decided to deliver half-heartedly written songs to the label and put his real music into the alternative album. Along the way, the public created monikers for the artist, calling him Ambiguity, Mysterious Illness, and then finally settled for Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
During this Love symbol-era, a number of albums were released through Warner Btos label but were received poorly and with lackluster sales, which proved exactly his point. When his publishing contract expired, and the singer went back to his name Prince and all was well again. Free from any contractual obligation, Prince released Emanicipation, a 36-song, 3-CD series, which was later certified platinum.
Even to this day, Prince still uses the Love symbol as a logo on album artwork. It is beloved reminder to him and to all his fans that if you feel like you aren’t marketed the way you want to, you gotta take marketing into your own hands…even if it means going by an unpronounceable symbol!
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