Prince's sudden death last Thursday led to an outpouring of mourning for fans in the Twin Cities and around the world.
Tragic as it is, there's exactly one good thing going on: People are reconnecting with the music that put Prince on top of the music world in the first place.
If the deceased is a soul/funk icon, the sixth stage of grief is gettin' down with one's bad self.
And, because the Purple One and his business (and legal) team was so effective at keeping free versions of his albums and concerts off the internet, a lot of this activity is playing out on paid music services, generating actual sales of singles and full albums. In an age of free, bootlegged, and cheap-streaming music, people are still ready to pay for Prince.
Prince tracks have dominated iTunes since his death, according to the tracking blog doipod.com: At one point, he had all 15 (!) of the top-selling songs there. As of Monday morning, Prince still holds the top six spots; in order, they are: "Purple Rain," "Little Red Corvette," "When Doves Cry," "Kiss," "Let's Go Crazy," and "Rasberry Beret."
Drake's brand-new song "One Dance" finally breaks the purple streak, but then Prince comes back, with "1999" at No. 8, his seventh song in the iTunes top 10. (Note: The doipod.com list updates every half-hour, so these rankings are subject to change.)
Working further down the charts, songs by Prince or Prince & the Revolution make up 21 of the top 40 songs selling on iTunes, with hits like "Darling Nikki," "I Wanna Be Your Lover," "1999," "The Beautiful Ones," and "7" cracking the list.
Prince's dominance on Amazon.com is even more pronounced. There, the soundtrack from the runaway Broadway musical Hamilton ranks No. 10 in album sales. The rest of the top 15 selling albums, and 17 of the top 20, belong to Prince. The list includes a variety of classics and greatest hit compilations, but also sees his 2015 releases HITNRUN (No. 14) and HITNRUN Phase Two (No. 6) getting their due.
Just how many downloads, sales, and dollars this translates to is hard to gauge: Digital music, once a rising juggernaut in the recording industry, has fallen off lately, with a 12 percent decline from 2014 to 2015.
Then again, that figure was blamed on the shift toward music available for free on Youtube, or cheaply, on Spotify. Since Prince resisted those — his music can only be streamed on the pricier Tidal, Jay Z's artist-friendly service — the pay-for-play system will probably mean more for him than almost any other artist out there.
For a guy who spent half his career getting screwed out of money, and the other half making sure that he wasn't, Prince (and his estate) might finally have the system beat.