Prince’s Performance Review from 1984

March 3, 1985
Warner Bros. Records
4000 Warner Blvd,
Burbank, CA 91522
Dear Mr. Nelson,

We’ve come to that dreaded time of year again—performance review season.

HR is changing the performance review template for the fourth time in four years, and the new version hasn’t come in yet from the printer, so I’m taking the liberty of substituting this letter for the official form.

You’ve had a solid year with us, Mr. Nelson. The Purple Rain album and movie have done well, but I am sure you will agree that we all have opportunities for improvement. What follows is my assessment of your performance for fiscal year 1984.


Job Skills and Knowledge:  You write, arrange, produce, sing all the vocals, and play all the instruments on your albums. And Eric Clapton says you’re the best guitar player of all time. Eric Clapton, for Christ’s sake!  Still, I would like to see you teaching some of the younger members of the team more often.  You have so much to share.
Score: (4/5)

Teamwork:  While always polite to your fellow employees, we continue to be concerned about your aforementioned tendency to not involve other team members in the production of our albums.   We are happy to see you have finally brought in The Revolution to back you up for Purple Rain. This is good progress, but we hope to see you continue to improve in this area.
Score: (2/5)

Work Quality:  Purple Rain topped the Billboard album chart for 24 weeks. “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” both reached #1, “Purple Rain” hit #2, and “I Would Die 4 U” peaked at #8. We sold 1.5 million copies in the first week of release. Two Grammys. One Oscar.
Score: (4/5)

Communication and Presence:  I don’t know if you’ve heard this feedback before, but you’re kind of a shy guy. You don’t speak much in meetings, letting others overshadow you. We would all benefit from you asserting yourself more. Please bring some of that stage presence into the conference room!
Score: (3/5)

Meets Deadlines:  I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that we barely made our target release date for Purple Rain. While I understand you were very busy with the tour and the movie preparations, you allowed these distractions to keep you from finishing all the tracks by the delivery dates outlined by the Project Management Team. Did you realize that Margie down in shipping had to use the express shipping option to get the promotional copies out to the stations on time? This was a costly mistake.
Score: (2/5)


Album Sales:  The target for Purple Rain this year was 750,000 copies. Accounting is still finalizing the numbers, but it looks like we will beat that number by around ten million. Nice work. I would like to give you a higher score here, but remember that we’re still quite a bit off the pace of Thriller.
Score: (4/5)

Movie Box Office Sales:  I know from prior conversations that you believe we didn’t agree to a target for the film, but HR backs me up on this. We set the target at $65M, which coincidentally is right where the domestic gross is coming in. And while it may seem like a $65M movie with a budget of $7M should be very profitable, Accounting is quite certain that we will lose money on the picture (so don’t expect any big royalty checks in the future!) Even if I could share all the cost details with you, I suspect it would be too difficult for you to fully understand.
Score: (3/5)

Promotional Budget:  Our budget for this year across the album and the movie was $2.5M. Instead, we spent in excess of $3M because of your numerous requests for additional support. Here at Warner Bros., we take budgeting very seriously. Where would this company be if everyone exceeded their budget?
Score: (2/5)

Average score on Success Factors: 3
Average score on Annual Objectives: 3

Final score: 3 (Meets Expectations)

I realize this score may be disappointing to you, Mr. Nelson, but please remember that you are still early in your career here at Warner Bros. With more time and additional focus on your development areas (teamwork, communication, meeting deadlines and staying within your promotional budget) you should easily exceed this score next year and put yourself solidly on track for promotion to senior assistant manager in the next several years.

Oh, and one more thing. It’s my pleasure to inform you that your performance review score qualifies you for a significant bump in your base bay. Look for the additional 1.0% in your check starting in May.

Best regards,


Jack Pearson
Special Assistant Vice President of Urban Funk Music for the Central Region
Warner Bros.