Rock legend Prince plans to premiere a new song on Napster on Friday, becoming one of the best-known artists to embrace the controversial Internet song-swapping service as a means of promotion.
Prince, whose hits include “When Doves Cry,” “1999” and “Cream,” said Monday that Napster users will be able to copy and share his new song “The Work – Pt. 1” free of charge and will be offered a link to the performer’s music subscription service.
The song is slated to be released later this year on Prince’s forthcoming album “The Rainbow Children.”
Earlier this year, Dave Matthews, whose hits include “Crash” and “Ants Marching,” also promoted his single “I Did It” on Napster, which allows Internet users to copy songs from other people’s computers for free, in many cases without the permission of the artists, labels and publishers.
Napster has been embroiled in a legal battle over intellectual property rights with the five largest record companies in the world.
The labels – which include Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music Group; Sony Music Entertainment; AOL Time Warner’s Warner Music Group; Bertelsmann AG’s BMG Entertainment and EMI Group Plc – successfully argued for a federal court injunction that requires Napster to block copyrighted songs identified by the labels.
“Napster is just one illustration of the growing frustration over how much the record companies control what music people get to hear,” Prince said in a statement.
Napster Chief Executive Hank Barry is expected to testify on Tuesday before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on digital music, along with several other music executives and performers.
Earlier this year, Prince introduced a Web site that offers new exclusive songs and other features through a subscription service called the NPG Music Club, named after his backing band the New Power Generation.
Prince has been an outspoken critic of the music industry, stemming in part from a dispute with Warner Brothers, his former record label, over the ownership of his master recordings and the pace at which he was allowed to release albums.
During the dispute, he changed his name to a cryptic unpronounceable symbol and took to appearing in public with the word “slave” painted on his face.