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Prince Rogers Nelson’s career spanned over 40 years. He sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. He showed the unwavering power of a musical genius and true creative. In addition to his music and epic performances, there is a lot we can learn about life and success from what Prince accomplished over his career.
Here is a short list of the many life lessons about success that Prince taught us:
Master Your Craft – Prince played at least 27 different instruments AND he wrote not only his own songs, but numerous hit songs for other artists. He learned to play a majority of the instruments before he turned 18! Prince is categorized as a musician, but he was so much more than that. Prince was the epitome of a master craftsman. To continually learn to play new instruments at a professional level of mastery shows the dedication and passion that Prince put into his life. He showed us exactly how we should all approach our purpose. There are many opinions about what it takes to be successful, but if you watch the lives of the people that have achieved the level of success that you desire, mastering skills and hard work are the common denominator.
Work Hard…Relentlessly – It would take us all day to name our favorite Prince hits and how they have impacted our lives. We all have a special memory associated with one or more of his songs. Prince had 39 Studio Albums! While some artists take 2-3 years to release a new album of songs that they themselves did not even write, Prince was constantly writing, producing and performing new music. And those were just his albums! Once you include tours, appearances, a couple of movies, and writing songs for other people, Prince was the definition of a relentlessly hard worker. Prince was singularly focused on delivering good music at the highest level, and he and earned every one of his successes.
Fight For What You Believe In – When Warner Bros. told Prince they owned the rights to his name, he changed it to The Symbol. He then performed concerts with the word “Slave” written on his face. After the legal fight with Warner Bros., Prince was primarily an independent artist who used the major labels as he saw fit and NOT the other way around.
He was also among the first major artists to tangle with digital titans YouTube and Ebay to protect unauthorized use of his work. At the time, a statement on his behalf read: “YouTube … are clearly able (to) filter porn and pedophile material but appear to choose not to filter out the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their business success.”
Be Bold – Prince exuded a calm boldness in the way he lived his live. For starters, he dressed in a way that made a clear statement about who he was- Prince. He wore flawless makeup, velvet and high heels! When most of the world would say that it is crazy and unusual for a man, Prince was totally comfortable being himself and did so confidently. His musical signature was also all his own. As you look back over Prince’s massive catalog, at no point did he change his music to adapt to the popular trends of the time. Over his 40 year music career, Prince reinvented himself by what he believed in and not to the status quo. That’s what made him a success. Prince once said, “All people care about nowadays is getting paid, so they try to do just what the audience wants them to do. I’d rather give people what they need rather than just what they want.”
Be Willing to Take Risks – In 2004, Prince sold more than 600,000 copies of his Musicology album thanks to a non-traditional sales move. Those who bought tickets to his sold-out arena shows received a copy of the album. The move drove sales and inspired Billboard to tweak its album tallying policy. Three years later he gave away copies of his album Planet Earth to subscribers of The Daily Mail, moving 3 million copies. Prince’s take? “It’s direct marketing.” The move was closely watched by an embattled music industry and made them more fully aware of how artists could cut them out of the music sales equation. This epic move on his part continues to empower artists to take control of their creative product and how it is distributed and sold.
Prince, as entrepreneurs, we thank you for your lessons and your continued inspiration.
What lessons and inspiration have you taken from Prince’s amazing music, life, and legacy?