The great newspaper giveaway ... and why the music industry is still brain-dead
July 1, 2007 We admire people who have the consistent ability to think outside the square and the artist formerly known as Prince is an established innovator, in not just his music. His latest stroke of business model remodelling genius is priceless in several ways, not the least for its bravery because he made a name for himself as part of the music establishment, with a record company deal and a history of massive sales and doing things the old way. Despite being on top of his game with massive sales of his next album, Planet Earth, guaranteed, he has made the decision that it be given away FREE inside a British Sunday newspaper. All ten tracks plus the sleeve are the same as the retail version to be sold in other countries. British newspapers report he has severely disenfranchised everyone in the industry as he’s apparently considering giving free copies of the new album to all people who have bought tickets to his upcoming U.K. concerts too.
The music industry’s traditional short term stupidity is again on display as the record stores are annoyed at all the sales they won’t be making.
The industry has only just begun to acknowledge how counter-productive its greed and lack of vision (e.g. suing its customers) has been, so it’s remarkable they cannot see the obvious benefits of this incredibly savvy move: it will broaden his audience to people who would never listen to his music otherwise and enhance the value of his back catalogue, give him a publicity boost worth trillions in countries where he can still sell his album at full retail, and probably still make him more money from the direct deal than the percentages available once all the middlemen take their share in the traditional carve-up.
Why else would someone who was certain to top the charts (Prince's last album, 3121, went straight to No 1) give his music away?