Prince To Give Away New Album in UK Newspaper
The record industry is mad at Prince again. The formerly unnamed artist has agreed to a deal to release a new, seemingly promotional CD as part of a British newspaper, to create hype for his new album – Planet Earth. Published reports say the CD will have songs from the new album along with old hits like “Purple Rain”, and the music industry isn’t happy at all. Seemingly reaching 2.3 million potential record buyers isn’t a good idea to them if it throws their business model into the dumpster. And in case these executives weren’t paying attention for the past five or so years, Steve Jobs picked part of their business model out of the proverbial dumpster. He turned it into a 3 billion dollar per year gem for his computer company at a time when these same angry music executives were still trying to sell music for nearly $20 per record on a 25 year-old format.
CNN.com reports that other artists including Duran Duran and Peter Gabriel have used this paper to give away CDs in the past. Not only does this idea breathe life into the stagnant world of printed newspapers in a time where the Internet rules supreme, it shows the music business that they need to come up with more creative ways to sell music. Since the failed effort to sell high-resolution music on SACD, DVD-Audio and Dual Disc, the music business has witnessed a solid decline in sales fueled both by poor new music releases and the antiquity of the Compact Disc. Can you imagine if a record label took a stand and released even just their best back catalog albums on one of the copy protected HD disc formats (Blu-ray or HD DVD) so that people could hear what the master tape really sounds like, and not just some compressed yet convenient shadow of an audio format like MP3? Perhaps people might chose to re-buy some of their music in a marketplace where HD resolution video games and movies vie for the same $20 to $50 disc investment.
Prince may not have won any friends in the music business with his latest move, but that is a bridge he torched a long time ago. As a formerly top-selling recording artist and as top-drawing performer even to this day, Prince makes the money he needs to live a very comfortable life resulting in the freedom to make and sell his music any way he wants. Bundling it in a newspaper is without question a creative concept. Making it an international controversy might be even smarter as the PR that comes from the newspaper drama alone will get the attention of many more potential new CD and download buying customers. Time will tell if the new Planet Earth album is a hit for Prince, but for now he has injected a much-needed new marketing idea into the dying world of music retail.
Sources: 3121.com, CNN.com