Prince, the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as… Prince, has once again angered the entire music industry, this time by distributing his brand spankin’ new album FREE with the purchase of a British tabloid magazine known as the Mail. The album, Planet Earth, will be packaged with Sunday’s edition of the Mail, priced at $2.80.
Prince has drawn harsh criticism across the entire music industry for his latest stunt. As we already know, the music industry is in the toilet facing rapidly declining CD sales. Not content to just rip fistfuls of cash from the hearts of fans, the biz has decided universally that they can’t afford a single artist to give away their work. This is being considered a “major blow” to the industry overrun with overpriced works from gimmicky boy- and girl-bands of all colors, genres, and levels of sucktitude.
Sony BMG UK, Princes’s local label, has cancelled their own sales release of the CD in Britain, saying it would be “ridiculous” to pursue it’s own sales launch there, but adding that they are still “delighted” to be working with Prince.
“The Artist formerly known as Prince should know that with behavior like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores,” said co-chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, Paul Quirk, “”It is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career.” He added that the deal was “yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music.”
A covermount is a CD or DVD attached to the front of a magazine or other publication as a sort of pack-in bonus. The practice is common in Britain in an effort to combat declining publication sales, but they are usually compilation albums or samplers. Prince’s Planet Earth contains new music, as well as some classics, like the song Purple Rain. The Mail on Sunday declined to say how much it paid to secure the deal or how many copies of “Planet Earth” it planned to sell. Its average circulation is 2.3 million copies.
A publicist for Prince’s record label said he wasn’t doing interviews
International sales launch for “Planet Earth” is July 16, and the U.S. launch is July 24. Prince also plans to give away “Planet Earth” with each ticket sold for his 21-date London concert later this summer.
But the controversy doesn’t end with Prince!
Read more for the story on retail turncoats and my thoughts on this fiasco.
UK book and music retailer HMV initially shared some strong criticism regarding Prince’s latest deal, but later decided to sell Sunday’s edition of the Mail in over 400 stores across the country, much to the chagrin of rival competitors. They don’t normally sell newspapers.
“Like it or not, selling the newspaper is the only way to make the Prince album available to our customers,” HMV said.
While that seems like a reasonable stance to me, rival retailers had a few unhappy words to say about it.
“We’re stunned that HMV has decided to take what appears to be a complete U-turn on their stance,” said Simon Douglas, managing director of retail at Virgin Megastores. “It’s not only retailers that suffer; the public will suffer in the long term by restricting choice on the high street.”
Yeah, he said it! Prince is hurting fans by giving away his music. Poor, confused Prince, the rock and roll genius sex machine that has done whatever he wanted to do whenever he wanted to do it in regards to his career, is miserably misled this time, according to stuffy suit-types with diminishing dollar signs fading from their eyes.
Frankly, the music industry has taken advantage of fans for too long, and it does my jaded soul good to see someone do something about it. Every once in a while, an artist will work up the nerve to take care of their fans, like when Pearl Jam refused to sell concert tickets through Ticketmaster, choosing to distribute through a smaller company for $10 or $12 dollars a pop, but more frequently sub-par musicians become the dancing monkeys of huge entertainment mega-corporations, and take fans for everything they’re worth. I recently looked into buying tickets to see The Police, tickets were something like $98 dollars each for the cheap seats. Go to a concert sometime and see what a band t-shirt costs. It’s insane.
The music industry, like so many others, is eventually going to have to slim down on those giant salaries, and start offering their products at a reasonable price, or real musicians and music lovers like Prince, my hero, will tear the system apart. The audacity of these guys to say that he is hurting fans in the long run by diminishing his ability to be distributed is both ridiculous and desperate in this age of digital distribution. And to claim that Prince is diminishing the value of recorded music? I’ve got news for Quirk; it’s not Prince. It’s money-hungry music executives scrambling to sign the next big thing. Creed, P. Diddy, 50 Cent, American Idol; THOSE are destroying the perception of the value of recorded music. The industry is eating itself. Princes latest move has done exactly what I imagine he wants it to do. It makes me want to import Sundays edition of the the Mail, and it makes me want to go buy some Prince albums. It makes me respect him even more so as an artist than I did before. He’s a brilliant musician, and he just re-affirmed that he is a total bad-ass.