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    Prince Site Fades to Black

    Not because of Chaos and Disorder but because it has "gone as far as it can go," Prince has shut down his pioneering Website, NPGMusicClub.com.

    The Purple Rain purveyor started the subscription-based site back in 2001, when he dropped the whole symbol thing (which he adopted in 1993) and was once again performing and recording under his better-known moniker--Prince.

    Named after his New Power Generation backup band, Prince used the site to release new music and non-album compilations and post messages to his fans--just this year it earned him a Special Achievement Webby Award.

    But that didn't stop him from pulling the plug.

    "In its current form, there is a feeling that the NPGMC has gone as far as it can go," an e-mailed statement to club members said. "Has the time come to once again make a leap of faith and begin anew? These are questions we in the NPG need to answer.

    "In doing so, we have decided to put the club on hiatus until further notice...The future holds nothing but endless opportunity and we plan on seizing it wholeheartedly. Don't u want 2 come?"

    David Schelzel, Prince's attorney, told the Minnesota Star Tribune that the shutdown has nothing to do with a trademark lawsuit filed against the site July 3. A publishing company in England, HM Publishing Holdings, claims that Prince's site infringes upon the name of its own science book division, called the Nature Publishing Group. Or, if you will, NPG.

    "Prince's use of the NPG or Paisley Park [as in the now-defunct record label and the still-open studio Prince owns and operates in Minnesota] trademarks is no way in jeopardy," Schelzel said, adding that his client has already been given the go-ahead to use the name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    He said that people would have to "wait and see" why Prince, who was named Best Male R&B Artist at the BET Awards in June, shut down his Website last week.

    NPGMusicClub originally charged members $7.75 a month for general access and $100 for a premium annual membership. Prince's camp lowered the fees to $2.50 a month and then $25 for a lifetime pass. After forking over the cash, several fans had complained about the site's heavily trafficked ticket section and its inability to deliver promised exclusives, according to Billboard.com.

    We're not sure if Prince knew that his site's days were numbered when he accepted his Webby Award in New York--he only offered a typically inscrutable acceptance speech.

    "Everything you think is true," was all he said before bringing down the house with an acoustic performance of "Don't Play Me."

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