Gary Flockhart: Publicity Pop goes the wee man Prince

Prince. Pic: Comp
Prince. Pic: Comp
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DON’T bite the hand that feeds you. It’s an idiom that’s been thrown at Prince on social networks, music forums and blogs after news that the pint-sized pop icon was suing 22 fans who posted his live performances on Facebook and other websites – to the princely sum of $1 million each.

The musical maverick, however, has since abandoned said piracy action.

The reason why he’s backed down is unclear but I don’t think he was ever going to bankrupt these individuals - he was simply sending out a message. That, and stoking up publicity for his soon-to-be-announced return to the UK.

No stranger to piracy battles, Prince regularly forces video-sharing websites such as YouTube to remove footage of his shows, and in 2007 he launched a lawsuit against infamous file-sharing website The Pirate Bay.

This time, the files he was threatening to sue over were mostly bad quality footage of his concerts shot on phones - and the pernickety Prince has always been a stickler for quality. Why would he want these dodgy clips all over the internet?

Still, when it was announced he was to sue his own fans, members of online community prince.org took a dim view.

‘Doing things like this is making him lose more and more fans’, posted one member. ‘Just pure greed’, opined another.

Say what you want about Prince, but I don’t think you could ever accuse him of greed. It’s not yet known what tickets will cost when the Minneapolis maestro returns to London next month, but when he last played there, during his triumphant 21-night residency at London’s 02 Arena in 2007, tickets were just £31.21 - and included a free copy of his latest album.

How many bona fide musical legends can you see for that price?

With his new tour set to be announced on Monday, it seems like the shrewd singer has bought himself a heap of free publicity. Well played, wee man.