Monday, 8 June 2015

Why Did Prince Change His Name to an Unpronounceable Symbol? With Lawyer and Solicitor Glenn Duker

On June 7, musician Prince turned 57 years old. He’s done quite a lot throughout his career, having released his first album as a 21 year old in 1978, but the thing people most associate with him these days is his highly unusual change of name in the mid 1990s. Glenn Duker, lawyer and solicitor looks at the reason for this bold move, and the parallels between it and employment law.

Glenn Duker
From Prince to (or The Artist Formerly Known As Prince)

Prince has used a lot of pseudonyms throughout his career; Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind and Christopher Tracy among them, but they were always aligned to work he did for other acts. But to change your name to what was essentially an unpronounceable symbol when you’ve built up a distinct brand under the one name over 15 years was going to be risky at best.

So why did he do it?

Prince was under contract at the time to Warner Records. Like the contracts you and I sign when we begin at a new workplace, there were conditions and expectations that he had negotiated and ones he was expected to abide by. Since 1978 he was releasing an album a year (except for 1983), compared to other acts of the time who put out new product usually every two or three years. This still wasn’t enough for Prince, who wanted to get even more music out into the market. However, Warner Brothers wanted him to dial back his existing rate of output for fear of flooding the market. Prince got fed up with his employers and tried to get out of his contract. He was unable to do so, and so in response – whether it was just a tantrum or there was some strategy behind it – he changed his name in 1993 to. Now referred to by the public as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, he took to writing the word Slave on his face as a statement his perceived treatment from his record label. In 2000 his contract with Warner Brothers ended, and TAFKAP reverted back to Prince once again.

While you and I might not have the profile that Prince has, we all want to feel we’re being treated fairly at work and compensated properly for the work that we do. We certainly have the right to. If you’re negotiating a workplace contract and wish to seek legal assistance from a lawyer and solicitor who specialises in employment law, make an appointment with Glenn Duker today.

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