This Sunday, the Mail on Sunday newspaper in England will hand out free copies of Prince’s (The artist previously known as Symbol, previously known as Prince, etc) new album, Planet Earth. The album was self produced by Prince, and the Mail on Sunday hopes to sell in excess of 2.5 million copies of their newspaper on Sunday – the paper is sold for less than £ 1.50. As far as I can tell, they are not increasing the cover price for this week’s edition – this is a genuine free CD.
Prince stated that he wanted to send a message to the music industry – and this one is loud and clear. The album is a full album, and will not be carried in shops in the UK (not for now anyway). See the promo poster here.
It isn’t as altruistic as it sounds, and there is some solid economics behind the deal. Prince has been paid £ 500,000 by the Mail on Sunday. To earn that level of revenue in England, he would have had to sell about 5 million albums – and with all due respect the ageing rocker was unlikely to do that in England. So, he is winning. The paper should score from it. Everyone is smiling. Or are they?

The most fun though is to Google News the story and see headlines like: “Prince has sparked an outcry by giving away his new album in the Mail on Sunday.” (BBC News) How much denial is the media and music industries in? Who is outcrying, for goodness sake? Are all the people who are going to buy the Mail on Sunday devastated at getting a new album from Prince for £ 1.50? Surely not! Are all Prince’s fans now disgusted that “just anyone” will now have a Prince album in their collection? Surely not! Is Granny horrified because with her normal newspaper on Sunday she’s going to get a CD she’ll probably not like nor ever listen to? Not really, since its FREE!! So, who is the outcry from?
Yes, you guessed it. Its from “the industry”. They’re almost as out of touch with reality as the average politician and as out of touch with technology and the real world as the average school teacher… OK, that’s unfair to both governments and educators alike. The music industry is as out of touch as it gets!!
For a few days, HMV music store said it would not sell the newspaper this Sunday. They have since reversed their decision. Read that story here.
Fox News reports:

The giveaway has been roundly criticized as a major blow for an industry already facing rapidly declining CD sales. It has led Sony BMG U.K., Prince’s local label, to pull the plug on its own sales release of the CD in Britain. International sales launch for “Planet Earth” is July 16; the U.S. launch is July 24.
“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 Paul Quirk, co-chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, referring to a period in the 1990s when the singer famously stopped using his name to protest a binding record deal. “It is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career,” Quirk said.

Is this guy for real? The record stores never “supported” Prince. Rubbish. They sold his albums so they could get stinking rich. What “support” is that? They are a channel for Prince to get his stuff to his fans. He is choosing a different channel because he is sick and tired of being ripped off by the current one. Good for him!!
Well done Prince for making more money by giving a freebie away than you could have by selling the CD. Well done for showing that the music industry CAN find other ways to make money for their ridiculously over-ego’ed stars. Well done for thinking. Hey, I’ll be in London on Sunday, and I think I’ll pick up a copy of the newspaper. Why not support such a worthy cause?

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