April 27, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – Prince, who died April 21, “was one of a handful of artists who helped shape a future where musicians, working people, get the fruits of their labor,” the AFL-CIO said in a statement April 22.
The 57-year-old singer, songwriter, and musician had been a member of the Twin Cities musicians’ union, Local 30-73 of the American Federation of Musicians, for more than 40 years, and was also a longtime member of SAG-AFTRA. “Prince was not only a talented and innovative musician, but also a true champion of musicians’ rights,” AFM President Ray Hair said in a statement, and the AFL-CIO praised him as someone who “put his own career on the line in defense of the rights of artists.” The federation cited his efforts to win the rights to own the master recordings of his work from his label, Warner Brothers, in 1993. “He was set, financially and career-wise, and had nothing to gain from taking on the onerous contracts that artists were saddled with when they were young, inexperienced, and hungry,” it said. “If he lost everything by taking on the industry, he still had money and fame to rely on. But he knew this wasn't true for many other musicians…. [He] continually fought to change the way that record companies treated artists, explored new ways to distribute music to fans and battled to give artists more control and more revenue for the art they create.” Read more