When Prince inked one-off deals with Arista (in 1999) and Columbia Records (in 2003), many were surprised to see him working with major labels, since the singer spent many months during the '90s embroiled in a drawn-out battle with his former label, Warner Bros., over issues of control with his music.
While the musician remains wary of entanglements with major companies, the Columbia partnership (which resulted in the Grammy-winning Musicology) proved fruitful enough for him to do it again — except this time he's entered into a similar arrangement with Universal Records to release his forthcoming album, dubbed 3121, in early 2006.
"It wasn't a contract. I don't believe in contracts. It's basically a handshake deal, but we do sign some agreements to ensure business gets accomplished," he said. "Ultimately, I got a chance to structure [the deal] the way I saw fit, as opposed to it being the other way around, and I got exactly what I wanted to accomplish."
Prince made those comments in Los Angeles on Tuesday during a press conference to premiere the video for his first single from the new album, the Salma Hayek-directed "Te Amo Corazón," (which translates as "I Love You, Sweetheart").
The singer, who became so passionate during his conflict with Warner Bros. that for a time he wrote the word "slave" on his face, came to the agreement with Universal without the aid of lawyer, and urged other artists to take similar control by reading and understanding the fine print themselves. Prince remained elusive on specific details of the deal — and did not explain the significance of his new album's unusual title — but added, "I've been independent for a long time, so to do any sort of agreement with a record company at this point would have to be in my best interest."
As usual, Prince wrote, produced and arranged "Te Amo Corazón," a sultry ballad that evidently celebrates the love he has for the special woman in his life. While the artist formerly known as the Artist would not disclose his inspiration for the track ("I leave that up to the individual that listens to it — it spoils it otherwise," he said), he noted that the single is not indicative of the album's sound.
The video — directed by Hayek and co-starring "Motorcycle Diaries" actress Mía Maestro as Prince's love interest — was filmed in the exotic setting of Marrakesh, Morocco. The opening of the clip shows the singer standing in front of a huge window with sunshine cascading down upon him, followed by clips of Maestro and Prince walking separately around an airy, open Spanish-style home. Later, Prince is seen struming his trademark purple guitar in bed, surrounded by satin sheets and rose petals.
Prince called Hayek, who drafted the original treatment for the video, "the most thoughtful, attentive director I have ever worked with."
The clip, which debuted on VH1 on Wednesday, is now available for download at NPG Music Club (see "Prince Offers Fans Exclusive Material Via Online Club").
Meanwhile, Prince also announced a tour is in the works, and it looks like you can expect to see some familiar faces on the road. "I don't want to talk about it [much] because I'm inviting some of my old friends to join us," he said. "You'll hear about it."