Prince Gets ‘Interactive’ With His Own CD-Rom: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Whether or not you grew up in the digital age, it's sometimes hard to remember a time without interactivity. But back in 1994, Prince showed he was among the early technology adopters to imagine the possibilities when he put out the CD-ROM "Prince Interactive." While a video for title song, "Interactive," appeared on the CD-ROM, it wouldn't officially be released on an album until four years later on the three-CD compilation Crystal Ball.
"Beyond guessing how to pronounce Prince's new legal name this disk will leave you wondering: Is it a game? Is it an aural puzzle? Or is it a musical experience? The answer is that it's all of these and more," began the PC Magazine review at the time.
Prince Interactive let you explore a virtual incarnation of Paisley Park, and among other clips, you could listen to six full songs, some of which were previously unreleased, watch four exclusive music videos and remix some of his music. It also contained clips of other musicians like Eric Clapton, Little Richard, George Clinton and Miles Davis discussing Prince. Entertainment Weekly called it "dopey but fun" in a cynical review of it and like-minded products including Peter Gabriel's Xplora 1, Todd Rundgren's No World Order and David Bowie's Jump, saying that the aesthetics and novelty of Prince's version would keep you entertained — once.
PC Magazine was a bit more generous. "Decked out in lush graphics, Prince Interactive takes you into Prince's imaginary boudoir, library, music studio, and private club. Throughout, you pick up clues to play videos and collect pieces of the Prince symbol ... The sound quality doesn't match that of a standard audio CD, but this music exemplifies his playfulness and ingenuity."
It certainly wasn't the only time Prince's only interactive foray. In 2006, he even earned a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award for NPG Music Club, through which subscribers received exclusive content.
Despite all his innovation in music and technology, however, Prince was leery of putting his catalog on the internet. In 2010, he famously told the Daily Mirror "The Internet is 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."
Prince: 40 Years of Photographs, 1977-2016