02 July 2007

The Industry Formerly Known as Music

Prince has always been ahead of the pack. Now he's doing it again:

The eagerly awaited new album by Prince is being launched as a free CD with a national Sunday newspaper in a move that has drawn widespread criticism from music retailers.

The Mail on Sunday revealed yesterday that the 10-track Planet Earth CD will be available with an "imminent" edition, making it the first place in the world to get the album. Planet Earth will go on sale on July 24.

"It's all about giving music for the masses and he believes in spreading the music he produces to as many people as possible," said Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen Miron. "This is the biggest innovation in newspaper promotions in recent times."

And as if that weren't a clear enough signal, try this:

Prince, whose Purple Rain sold more than 11m copies, also plans to give away a free copy of his latest album with tickets for his forthcoming concerts in London.

In other words, he recognises that CDs are now little more than marketing elements for promoting his personal appearances, which are where the real money is generated. Moreover, being purely analogue, the overall experience of attending concerts cannot be copied, unlike recordings of the music played during them.

Sadly, the Industry Formerly Known as Music just doesn't get it:

The Entertainment Retailers Association said the giveaway "beggars belief". "It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. "It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music.

"The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."

Now, it wouldn't be that somebody's scared witless of the looming threat of disintermediation, perchance?


Bill Hooker said...

I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday

Noice little music career you got there... be a shame if somefing were to... 'appen to it...

Glyn Moody said...

You'd think they'd be a little more subtle about it....