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In the middle of a starstruck interview by a reporter for London’s Daily Mirror, the artist currently known as Prince launched into a short, punchy tirade against Internet music distribution.

Prince, in case you haven’t followed him lately, has shut down his own website. He has ordered clips of his music removed from YouTube. Asked to explain why his next album will be sold as CD only and won’t be downloadable, he said:

“The Internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it … The Internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.

“Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

Is MTV really outdated? The network’s Video Music Awards drew an estimated 5.8 million viewers. In the first quarter of this year, averaged about 25 million unique monthly visitors. Maybe Prince should fill his head with those numbers.

His real gripe seems to be that he’s not getting paid enough for digitally distributed music. He wants an advance from iTunes, rather than waiting to see how much they pay him. He doesn’t believe the conventional geek wisdom that posting his songs on the Internet will drive sales of music and merchandise to new heights.

Credit the guy for not following the pack, and for challenging the conventional wisdom that the Internet makes everything better for everybody. But you’d think Prince of all people would have one hell of a social media presence. Think how hot he’d be on Twitter. Instead, he’s left the playing field wide open for Net-savvy acts like Chester French. He will need to convince the multitudes that it’s the Net and not Prince that is over. There’s one obvious path to that: If Prince can crank out another hit without the help of the Internet, he’ll have a lot more credibility.

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