Music Retailers Flip Out That Prince Wants To Give Away His Music

from the it's-madness! dept

For years, some have been saying that the real problem holding back the music industry from embracing digital distribution hasn’t been the record labels so much as the record stores. In fact, in the Rolling Stone article about the suicide of the recording industry, one of the key stumbling blocks was that the music retailers threatened the record labels if they embraced digital distribution such as Napster. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that music retailers are spitting mad over Prince’s plans to give away his latest album. Prince has actually been on the cutting edge of new music business and distribution models for many years, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. What’s interesting, is that he’s actually linking two troubled industries: recording and newspapers in a way that helps both. His latest CD will be available for free with a newspaper in the UK — and the newspaper is thrilled because it’s going to seriously increase circulation for that week. This is a perfectly reasonable idea: it adds value to the newspaper and makes it a more worthwhile purchase, while at the same time getting Prince a lot of attention and many more people hearing his latest works (which opens up many more opportunities for him to make more money through concerts, back catalog, merchandise, appearances, sponsorships, etc.).

However, the music retailers are freaking out that someone else might distribute music instead of them. Apparently they haven’t been paying much attention to all that online distribution of music that goes on these days and the fact that the business model of the traditional record shop is pretty much dead and buried. Instead, they blame Prince for actually getting more fans to hear his music. “It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career,” claimed one. Another said: “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores.” Of course, that’s the funniest one, since it’s pretty clear that Prince has already realized he’s better off without the record stores. Then there’s the head of HMV: “I think it would be absolutely nuts. I can’t believe the music industry would do it to itself. I simply can’t believe it would happen; it would be absolute madness.” Basically, what you’re reading here is an industry in complete and total denial over the fact that their service (delivering plastic discs to willing buyers) is a business model that’s increasingly obsolete.

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Comments on “Music Retailers Flip Out That Prince Wants To Give Away His Music”

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Stephen says:

record stores

i’m glad you picked up on this. how blinkered are these stores? they seem to believe that they and they alone should be the retailers of music when they should be asking themselves, why has prince written us off? they should also be asking themselves, when people come in to buy that album, are they willing to give up a sale for their monopolistic principles?

Anonymous Poster (profile) says:

As I’ve said before:

The music industry = the people who make the music
The record industry = the people who sell the music

It’s looking more and more like the music industry wants to get rid of the record industry, or at least change it for the better. I’m not a big fan of Prince’s music, but right now, I’m a big fan of Prince.

CharlieHorse says:

go prince

so … let me get this straight …

1. Prince owns his record label
2. the record label (which Prince owns – see #1) records and produces Prince’s music albums, cds, whatnot …
3. Prince says, “aha! here this is MY music (copyrighted!) recorded and produced in MY studio (see #1 and #2) … I’m a pretty smart guy when it comes to marketing myself, so I’ll give away a bunch of copies of MY latest work – oh, which, by the way, did I mention, I OWN, and can do whatever the bloody hell I like with ? …”
4. then some bloviating cow’s rectum in the british entertainment retailers assoc threatens prince because of this ? and then has the asinine and arrogant gall to subsequently threaten any other artist who dares to do the same thing ?

are these people completely mental ? they are so removed from what the reality of their marketplace is, it is simply astonishing …

reminds me of a line from the classic “Time Bandits” … “Oh, Robert … you are so mercifully free from the ravages of intelligence …”

dninc (user link) says:

Thanx prince you did it again

Re inviting yourself while helping others, this is the thing i’ve been trying to preach to the masses for a long time on various websites.
Im thrilled prince is taking leadership and leading the way to possibly better music for the future, artist will in turn make more money, fans of music can finally return and praise their artist on the new Digital platform (artist messageboards and the sort) and Less RIAA and Record industry interruption.

Jacob Buck says:

Seems to me that all the free advertising Prince is getting because of the reaction might entice another band to do the same kind of thing. Also, I’m betting there’s a large contingent of people out there who would think its cool to own a disc that you can’t just go out and pick up anywhere. Kind of an underground movement thing. Hopefully more artists start moving toward this.

Prince's Newest Fan says:

I’m not surprised that music distributors are angry. I get pretty surly too when someone points out my shortcomings.
Perhaps instead of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth they should be asking themselves what the newspaper is offering Prince that they didn’t. Of course that would mean admitting that their business model is obsolete, their marketing of artists is nonexistent and their service to their customers is shoddy at best.
Personally I’ve half a mind to go buy his album even though I don’t especially care for his music. Moves like this need to be supported.

Anonymous Coward says:

“It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career,”

That’s the problem. They want to continue to live in 1984, when Purple Rain was released. Maybe he should release this on 8-track, since that’s what they sold those many years ago when they supported him.

Additionally, they act like supporting him was strictly a favor to him, that they didn’t really benefit…”we just sold his LP’s and CD’s all those years to support him”. Yea, right…

The only difference between me and you is that I a says:

Well Prince’s forray into the “cutting edge of new music business and distribution models” hasn’t been exactly a resounding success. Can most people name anything from prince since the old classics like purple rain? Didn’t think so.

Prince thought that his fame alone would allow his online store to thrive, and obviously that hasn’t worked out. To simply dismiss the labels is not the solution either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually he is pretty darned successful even today. You may think he sucks, but he’s still doing pretty well for himself. Just because he doesn’t get played much on MTV doesn’t mean much – part of the point of his business model is to do well without MTV. Don’t just judge his success according to the mainstream when his whole point for the past 8-10 years has been to shun the mainstream.

Krum says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And it’s not like MTV plays music any longer anyway so you really don’t see any artist’s work there aside frome one of their extra channels. I don’t see why the stores can’t think of other business models. They could set up kiosks in the store that you plug your iPod/MP3 player into to download music and purchase it right there. Or sell flash drives with high quality content on them. Make the kiosks and stores more interesting and fun so people would actually want to go to the store instead of purchasing the tracks online at home. Have a few artists perform for free at the shops to bring in the crowds.(Some local shops here in Oregon still do that and I try to go to everyone because I may like the band and want to purchase their mrech.) Couple all that with their practice of legally buying/selling/trading used CD’s and these businesses would probably be all right….but it is easier just throw a fit and whine about change.

Ripley says:

Re: Re: Not Successful?

That is just strange to say Prince is not successful now.
I do believe that his last album ‘3121’ entered the UK Top 10 at about the same position that the last few Bjork albums did. Is she not successful then? His albums since 2004 have hit the upper Top 10 in the USA, and he was the highest grossing artist to tour North America in 2004 on the ‘Musicology’ tour. (I think that Madonna also toured the USA that same year).So that is quite a pointless observation to make. Have the Earth Tour dates in London’s O2 not been a big success as well?

Oh by the way, he has been in the music ‘business’ since something like 1978. Please feel free to add more comments.

PhysicsGuy says:

Re: Re:

“To simply dismiss the labels is not the solution either.”

sure it is. personally, i’m ecstatic that there’re more players on the board now. first NIN and now Prince. sure, people may not be the biggest fans of their music, but the particular moves they’re presently making are marketing genius which is making many people, who otherwise wouldn’t, sit up and pay attention to them.

Wolfger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No kidding! That’s like the sports fans around here, who complain their team sucks because they had the misfortune of only being 2nd best in the league. Prince’s current success (popularity) may not be as big as his previous level of success, but it’s a hell of a lot more success than most musicians with recording contracts ever see (not to mention the thousands/millions without recording contracts). I also dare say he’s making more *money* now than he did then, since he runs his own show and doesn’t have 2 or 3 middlemen taking a cut.

Motospark says:

Paying more for Inferior Quality Hell No!

I like to thank Prince, he is a smart man, Why? I have found that downloading music from whatever source for free is a good thing for the industry. 1st it gives me and you a sample of music that we might not had a chance to sample at all. I also don’t believe we should pay for inferior quality MP3s, and I will never do so. I have all but stopped purchasing CDs, Why? Sub analog quality. If this industry wants me to purchase any kind of music as of years past they should 1. Offer a higher quality product, SACD quality to download at the same prices that they are charging for MP3s, and we should be allowed to use that download to listen in our homes, Car, and PCs without having to jump through legal hoops, or hacking.


Steve L says:

Record Stores

If does not matter if the Record Stores forced the recording industrie into not going digital, but the problem is the CDs that are being sold today. There is one, two, and if lucky three songs per CD that are decent and the rest are junk. That is why Itunes and the rest that offer downloads are doing so good, people can download the songs they want and forget about what is left. Maybe what the Record Stores and the recording industrie should do is to figure out a way to speacial record copies of what people want. Have a few CDs on hand for the ones who want the whole CD, but have one they use to record a CD for their customer with the songs on it that the customer wants. If they could figure out a way to do this, then people would possible come back to their stores and buy.

"Zeke" says:

Re: Record Stores (w/ DIY CDs)

I see a few Record Stores (Electric Fetus in Mpls., for example) where they do that very thing, wherein you can scroll through dang near any tunes / albums that are out there and pick out the tunes you want and the store burns ’em for ya, right there, and you may pay about the same as iTunes/rhapsody or whatever , but I believe these to be of CD quality, not compressed or dithered, so you pick and choose (w/preview ability to boot)!

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Record Stores

Ah, the good old ‘there are only one or two good songs per CD’ argument. Never did understand that argument. On one hand people complain that the record industry seems to focus of pop stars (you know the usual culprits) but the same people turn around and say ‘there are only a few good songs on the CD’, which seems to imply that only the good – or POPULAR – songs should be released.

Roger Entner (user link) says:

New Strategies

Here is what I wrote on my blog June 10th

Only a few weeks after Verizon launched their integrated music identifications (ID) service that lets music lovers buy songs they hear anywhere on the fly, the company has upped the ante again. Prince is exclusively providing his first single off the new album to Verizon Wireless customers who use their music ID service and ID the song that is playing on the site – and all of it free of charge. The initiative is supported by an integrated advertising campaign. This initiative gives consumers the incentive on a risk free basis to learn how to use the music ID, show them how to improve their music discovery experience, and keep a brand new song from a legendary musician on top of it.
If we take one step back, the significance of this announcement becomes quite considerable, especially when taken together with an announcement from early May 2007. Prince, a legendary music icon without a record label contract has found a new way of how to launch his new single and album, promote it and secure an additional distribution channel. This is actually the third event in a progressive development that will most likely lead to the record labels losing their most iconic artists. In 2000, rumor has it that Sting felt that his record label was not adequately supporting his new album Desert Rose. In a move that turned record merchandizing rules upside down, Sting licensed Desert Rose to Jaguar for the use in an automobile commercial. Typically, artists frown upon being used in advertising and it is only used as a last step to extract the final value from a popular tune. Sting instead used the ubiquity of the Jaguar commercial as a music discovery tool and made it to the Number 1 spot of Billboard’s Hot Dance Music Charts and Number 17 of Billboard’s Top 100 – and that was seven years before an integrated music ID service. The second event was the launch of Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie single and album exclusively with Verizon Wireless before a general release to the public. The success of the Shakira’s single and album by limiting distribution to just one outlet confounded common wisdom in the music industry. The single was the smash hit of 2006, having built significant momentum during the period of limited distribution. While Sting and Shakira remain within the construct of his record label relationship, Prince is a completely free agent. If Prince’s new single “Guitar” is even moderately successful I can imagine that he will earn more money for himself than if he would have had a mega-hit with a record label.

In early May 2007, Verizon announced a partnership with Fergie around her VIP concert tour that eliminates paper tickets. This takes the development that started in 2006 with a Fugees concert to the next level, where a barcode that was sent wirelessly to the handset was one of the ways to get into the concert. In the case of Fergie’s VIP tour, with the exclusion of winners of various contest and lotteries, the only way concert goers can attend Fergie’s concert is through the barcode that is sent to a Verizon Wireless phone. At first glance one can see the cost reduction of no longer needing to print and send paper tickets, elimination of fraud and marketing potential for the associated wireless service provider, but the puzzle pieces of a concurrently evolutionary and revolutionary development are starting to come together.
The combination of music discovery though advertising and radio with music ID, the subsequent immediate monetization of the identified song and album (with or without the associated DRM), and the cross selling opportunity ranging from song, album, ring tone, ringback tone, to concert tickets all within minutes hearing the tune for the very first time. If record labels are not going to adjust their business model to this shift they are risking of becoming merely optional. If you thought online music was a shock to the music ecosystem, think again what the wireless industry is going to do to revolutionize the industry and to bring music to more people than ever in a completely new and direct way.
The likely success of the Prince Guitar/Planet Earth campaign with huge cross-over appeal combined with Fergie’s concert tour will lead other superstars to question if they will actually need a label as it operates today to promote and distribute their music. Their new songs featured on television advertising, combined with an integrated music ID service that lets people buy the song or album on the spot will create enough of an interest to get radio play, which drives again revenue through integrated music ID discovery and regular record sales. This development will lead to the superstars needing record labels less and less as they exist today. At the same time, television commercials become will become the preferred outlet of brand new music.
How can other wireless service providers benefit from this development? Be a fast follower. The barcode initiative that allows concert tickets to be displayed is within the reach of every wireless carrier. On the music side Sprint has it probably the easiest. They have the same basic capabilities as Verizon and can put it together the same fashion. Service providers that do not have the same integrated music store capability such at AT&T and T-Mobile still have music ID features available to their customers today. They have to work with selected music portals ranging from iTunes to Napster to name just a few to connect the music ID discovery mode with actionable purchase decision. For example (not having seen the iPhone), I would expect the iPhone to have a music identification function. I hope that once somebody has identified a song with the iPhone, it gives the user the option to purchase the song with iTunes. Once they get home, the song has already been downloaded onto their computer and is ready for side loading.

dobestpossible says:

Don't be mad becuase you lack Innovation

Record stores changed formats (from vinyl, 8-track, cassette, and Compact Disc) over the decades. What is ignorant is the fact that, even knowing digital music formats were the next format, record labels and stores did not accept the best quality music copying/retrieval format ever seen at the time. Instead they became fearful of how easy it was to copy music and try desperately to put it to death (but the popularity prevented that). Record labels should’ve opened online stores to download music by purchase before Napster became the normal music download site. Apple iTunes store took the challenge of legal sales and is now richer for doing so. In the record stores’ face! They can’t cry about their dying industry now, the market has spoken. Purchasing entertainment from the comfort of home is the demand, now go supply them.

comicfan says:

Yep, *sigh* I can’t really say what’s been said except for this…

Not only will this…

1. Promote his music
2. Make him a legend
3. Help promote other things (eg..newspaper)
4. Flip off the rip off, eg…record stores, RIAA and the likes
5. And the biggest thing in my eyes, this will FORCE others to have some GOOD FREAKING MUSIC for a change. Ok, I like older music, then mainly hard rock from 80’s, and even 90’s and some now, very few but some. I think this forces those crappy artists, if depending on promoting for their concerts, etc…to have to simply do BETTER. Plus if more independent, they could create what they want, how they want. Radio wouldn’t be controlled by the RIAA and force us to listen to Donkey Doo.

Go Prince GO!

futuR says:

If music retailers want to survive..

..they would be turning their shops into places you can listen to music, not just look at it on a shelf. They would be emptying, or drastically reducing the amount of physical media in their shops (moving the stuff to mail-order warehouses) and replacing the shelf space with audition booths equipped with ipod docks. Offer music in whatever format the customer wants, be that direct transfer, download credits, custom burnt cds, or factory-made physical media if people really want it. Buying music can still be a great social experience, so put coffee shops and stuff in there, have music rooms with kickass sound systems for group bookings, get local bands in for mini-gigs, etc etc etc.. There is so much they could be doing with their business, but they’re letting it all go stale. It’s a shame, because buying music over the internet is pretty boring tbh, and you can’t compete with $0.00, which is what many people these days seem to think music is worth to them.

Falindraun says:

whats in a music store

I live in Denver Co and all the major music stores here (sam goodie, music land, etc.) have closed up shop due to lack of business. Even the small mom and pop stores are struggling if it werent for local music scene here. So if you want you music on a disc you have to look for a Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. where the music is going to be censored (ie: family friendly music). So when it comes to whats in a music store…these days its not much.

James (user link) says:

Don’t you think that bloggers should be less mindless and post on more meaningful things such as charity? America is in the toilet and you aren’t do your fair share to make it better. You are a journalist but not an activist. I would hate to be you.

Consider making a difference and make your next blog entry on something worth caring about. How about suggesting to your readers your favorite charity. Maybe some of them will even contribute…

Dave says:


Wow, that part where they say Prince won’t be available in record stores… that’s hilarious!!!! Oooo, I’m sure he’s really nervous about such a BIG BIG THREAT! And Oooo, they’ve done so much for him! I don’t suppose that any money they made selling Prince’s stuff counts – after all, they were selling his CD’s not to make money, but out of the SHEER GOODNESS of their hearts and desire to help Prince, and because of that, Prince should be loyal to them and do whatever they say!!!

I’m one of the slowest adopters of new technology and music distribution of anyone I know, and even I gave up going to record stores at all, oh, at least four years ago.

If a lame-o like me can figure out all the latest ways to get digital media, and these “record stores” think they are still viable, wow, talk about ostrich-like behavior!

Comicfan says:

Re: Funny!

I agree with you! Empty threats. As well, with an above post. Coffee house, listen to the music, etc… innovation has stopped due to the RIAA and music stores. We have NO music stores, 0, zip, nada, nill, zilch. They all moved out years ago, why, because no one wants to pay 15.00 for a bunch of garbage. A crapload of music takes all new meaning nowadays. Some of it’s good but man, you get one or two good songs and then you are like, where the hell did the rest come from? Is that the same artist? Who put this on my CD???

No, I haven’t bought, downloaded legally, or illegally, any music in years. If there is a good song, the radio station gets paid to wear it out in a week.

I did like some Prince music like the classic 1999, little red corvette, and quite a few others. I was almost strictly hard rock but I felt Prince had some decent songs. Either way, I applaud his efforts and even if I didn’t like some of his music would back him up 100%.

It’s just as bad as the bands like Backstreet Boys, New kids, etc…arrrggg i’m gonna hurl! These types were all simply created to make quick money for the Recording industry as well as many solo artists, or regular bands in the last so many years. Get them out there, make some money, dump em’ and move on to the next while WE, the listener gets screwed with a crappy CD and a one hit song on the whole damn thing.

At least Prince had quite a few good songs on his albums. I didn’t agree with Metallica taking on Napster, however they did get put forefront to others who supposedly were in on it. Still, they were my favorite band throughout the years and sure, I could have downloaded for free but hell, I bought and own everything they have made, why? Because I felt they were worth every penny despite the Napster happening.

So Prince gets his music out for free, I suppose Metallica is going to crap themselves over this which in some ways, even as a top fan, I hope happens. They have gotten to big on themselves and i’m not afraid to say it. What a blow to me as a fan, seeing how they became RIAALLICA. I think Prince is going to set a new standard for music and even if it means pissing off my favorite band, so…be…it…..!

Walter Dnes says:

The middle-men are screaming at being cut out of t

Note 1 Music Stores != Music Industry. There are now many ways to *LEGALLY* obtain music without setting foot in a record store. Amazon, Apple Itunes, and various other services.

Note 2 Movie Theatres != Movie Industry. There are now many ways to *LEGALLY* view a movie without going to a cinema, e.g. bricks+mortar movie rentals like Blockbuster, postal mail services like NetFlix, cable Pay-Per-View and movies on demand.

In both cases, the former exclusive middle-men are very unhappy. They will soon follow the horse-and-buggy industry.

Comicfan says:

Re: The middle-men are screaming at being cut out

Walter, you bring up a very good point. I wanted to state something off your comment. Movie industries have since been on the no copying DVDs for a time now, they tell us it takes away from movie producers, etc…like the RIAA did with CDs. I don’t know if you will agree or not, but wasn’t there a time before VHS? Before DVD? Didn’t movies survive from theaters alone? From the statements of producers and such on DVDs, they sound as if they have no real profit from DVDs. As well, it’s known artists get little or nothing from CD sales. So being it’s cheaper than ever to make music, tapes were more expensive as were vinyl, so why the high price? Well as you said, middle men. Prince is attempting to eliminate this and in my opinion, I hope he succeeds. I do feel for some record stores but let’s face it, times they are a changin’. Who sang that? Can’t recall, but very good words.

Side note off topic: I love how the DVD anti piracy shows a girl downloading and burning a movie in seconds, loll. 4 gigs, downloaded in seconds. Anyone who downloads knows that 4 gigs is a task for even the faster speeds. Leave it to anti-piracy ads.

Tashi says:

There are plenty of artists, not just Prince that have successful careers outside what the corporate entities tell you who you should like at any given time. Prince sucks? Damn how incredibly ignorant. Anyway he’s been consisently on TV worldwide, performing worldwide, getting awards, he wrote the title song for the movie “Happy Feet”… where the hell are his critics living, under a rock?

Norman619 (profile) says:

Where do they make their money?

Concerts! I’m impressed with this move by Prince. I always felt they should use the CD’s as a promotional piece. The artists make most of their money from concerts. The record lables are the ones that make a killing from CD sales. The artists only get a small fraction of the CD profits. Tell me again why stars like Prince and others need to be with a lable? I’m sure he has more than enough money have his own recording studio and pressing CD’s is dirt cheap. The artists can sever their ties with their lables and make much more money. I pref buying stuff at concerts since I know the artists are the ones who mainly profit from those sales. The stores are only upset because someone finally is showing them their days are numbered. They are a dieing breed and they are trying to appear relevant.

George Stephenson (user link) says:

Prince Giving Away His Music

I think Prince is a savvy businessman. He may have even read the book Wikinomics (Tapsccott/Williams) that talks about collaborating in a global ecosystem. This is an innovative idea that does a “mashup” of two different industries and gives the artist plenty of exposure for his music. I think it’s an excellent idea; and let’s face it . . . he will not probably continue this with each successive album, just maybe every now and then. I say “Bravo” to this musical genius who now has the record industry rethinking this paradigm and futzing around with the uninspired look on their faces not knowing what to do next. I say, follow Prince’s lead. . . Use another venue (different from a newspaper perhaps) to “mashup” with for your most talented artists … add the technology spin and make the release MP3 and downloadable only, or anything like this. Imagine how much exposure these artists will receive. Don’t want to do it forever? Then make it for a reasonable but limited time. Good job, Prince, excellent and innovative idea, but . . . you always have those don’t you!

Overcast says:

That’s awesome 🙂

Makes you want to even check out his concert when he’s in town. Hats off to Prince!

And like it’s been said – the RIAA’s problem ISN’T piracy. It’s that they really represent the marketers and distributors of music – not the artists. And that’s whose interests are really in danger here.

We need the old distribution model like a hole in the head. The Web – for music, is a far better model. Just like the car was a far better method of transportation than the horse and buggy.

Overcast says:

Don’t you think that bloggers should be less mindless and post on more meaningful things such as charity? America is in the toilet and you aren’t do your fair share to make it better.

So what? I should give *your* charity money?
LOL, get list Scammer.

Who says I don’t donate already on my own accord? Why do you judge us without knowing who we are? I can’t post on a tech blog in my free time, huh? I need to on yours?

Sheesh, some people…

If the US is in the toilet – the rest of the world is just the nasty pipes below. At least we shine in some spots, lol

Michael A. Banks (user link) says:

Giving away music ...

Prince Whatsits has a great PR gimmick going here. Of course, others have given away their books, their music, and other art, but when it is something that has such a high perceived or market value placed on it–not to mention something that a bunch of people can make money with–it’s news.

So, P can afford to do this and it the publicity alone will probably cover the cost of manufacturing and distributing the CDs, in terms of increased attention and music sales resulting therefrom. No advertising costs. And there’s no risk for P; even if he had to eat the cost of the CDs, it’s not going to put him on the street or make him suffer.

Anyway, I don’t see this as a showstopper. It’s not a magnanimous gesture. There is no pesonal greatness attached to it. It’s not really marketing genius; companies have been giving away product to promote sales (saw a lot of that in the 1920s, with radio. And it hasn’t stopped since.)

Still, being the first to do this is worth something. Once a lot of major (and mid-level) artists are giving away product, it will no longer generate free publicity.

Same thing, different venue.

benefacio says:

History Lesson

Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it. -George Santayana

Musicians started off being their own promoters and learned the many reasons why it is not the best approach. This led to the creation of music promoters, which led to record labels which led to the RIAA.

The most important, and least answered question on this topic is; Anyways, why is the survival of the record store or terrestrial radio any concern of musicians or record labels? The simple answer is because it is another way to make money and get your music heard. The complicated answer has to do with the differences between centralized and distributed methods of getting goods into consumer’s hands.

I have been hearing about the demise of retail brick and mortar purchasing for a decade now and it has not come true. It will not come true until consumers change their buying methods. Considering the fact that consumers have been going to market for thousands of years I doubt such change will occur during your lifetime.

As with any manufacturer of goods, musicians need to be concerned when methods of distribution start to fail, especially when they have proven to be successful. Remember, record stores and radio stations were never about selling pieces of plastic recording medium but about selling access of music to consumers. The only consumer desire that is changing is the medium, not the level of access.

Comicfan says:

History lesson

Well, I’m not so sure this is history repeating itself. Promoters didn’t come about until they found they could record someone’s music and sell it when the vinyl record was made. The problem was, who had the money to create so many albums on their own? They didn’t so companies like MGM, etc…promoters, and eventually 1950 “ish” the RIAA, all saw fit to take their earnings, uh I mean, business.

Nowadays, through the magic of the internet and travel, concerts, and many other promotional methods, I think many artists could in fact do this on their own. There is a catch, they actually have to be GOOD and appeal to people. Wow, maybe some good damn music making it’s way back? There will be no, RIAA deciding who stays or who goes, no RIAA controlling what we listen to through radio or TV. Simply, it’s the RIAA who is doomed by history, NOT independent artists.

Benefacio says:

Re: History lesson

Well, I guess you would call this Ancient History then, since it predates any sort of recorded music other than written sheet music. The first sorts of music promoters that I recall were called patrons. Wealthy Patrons hired musicians to play just to have it known they can hire musicians to play, for the most part. Some realized that free access to popular musicians could be used for private business deals; using free to enhance the value of something else. They then realized that giving access to musicians could be profitable in its own right and opera, concert and music halls blossomed. Record labels are just an expansion, an evolution of this process.

I agree, independent artists are not doomed, but they do have a much harder row to hoe, so to speak. The more time you spend promoting yourself the less time you have to play music. Word of mouth will only take you so far and at some point musicians are faced with the choice of professional promotion or going it alone.

The benefits and pitfalls of professional promotion are the same now as they were 20, 50 or even 100 years ago. Professional promoters are not going to go away and neither are the professionals hired to represent them, like the RIAA.

Record stores and radio stations are just another link in a long supply chain that delivers access to musicians, as well as other types of artist. The ones that fail are the ones that forget this and buy into the false belief that they are about selling plastic storage devices. People buy access to musicians and the music they play, NOT un-usable plastic storage devices. Blank plastic storage devices are a totally different market.

Manufacturers that ignore problems in their supply chain don’t seem to stay in business very long.

Calvin says:

If the music dies, it's cause they stopped making

First, I want to say that I am a big prince fan and followed his work for some time. His music has changed that is true, however it has not lacked in quality. Always at the top of his game when in concert, and always giving great music, some people may not like his style/music but many people still resepct him. His model of selling cds post warner brothers has made him more money than with a major record label. He made more off of Emancipation which sold maybe 2 or so million than he did on Purple Rain which sold over 11 million. So anyone can say anything about prince but he’s not a fool.

Just wanted to say that first, because people seem to have found prince to be irrelevant. He has simply chosen not to go through the mainstream/charts and deliver his music directly to fans. he isn’t big with the crowd that only buys what’s popular at the time. He has made more money by releasing everything his way and to his true fans. so he’s not exactly out of the game, he’s simply reinventing how it’s played.

Now, onto what I hate. The music industry is blaming piracy and nor prince for the fact no one is buying cds. And somehow this is everyone’s fault but their own. Number one, why are cd’s so expensive? DVD’s when new were expensive but their price has came down over ther years, and they spend as much money on talent/promotion that cds do, so how come cds are almost 20 bucks when you can find them online or in wal marts etc at so much less? Who’s the pirate here? I agree that downloading music does give people a taste of a new album to let you know if it’s worth downloading or not. But just like book stores are not hurt by public libraries that distribute the same work for free. I don’t believe piracy is that big of a nemesis to the industry.

two. If they are worried about people not buying cds why not offer someone something other than cookie cutter musical puppets, who sing to the same tired beat. If you want people to buy more music, PUT OUT MORE QUALITY MUSIC. I mean, honestly, when we found out that ashles simpson was lip synching on SNL did anyone really care? was anyone really surprised? without big name producers and computer aided music/backing a lot of these “artists” would never ever be signed in the first place. All they have to do is look good and let everyone else do the work.

I remember back in the day when prince released a cd collection called “crystal ball” online only. it sold quite a few copies, and though it sold less than say his biggest money makers, without a label to stake a claim it was 90percent profit, minus production costs. when major artists only get two or three dollars a cd, and the rest goes to the music mafia as i call it, you have to start wondering why they didn’t see this coming in the first place. I love cds, but i know there are many places to find it cheaper than in many retail stores. so i look around, and well good ol’ word of mouth and friends sharing their music with me gives me reasons to buy cds, the record industry with their hollow hit machines and superficial and glitzy marketing campains have always failed to impress me. I much rather pay an artist directly for a cd than pay ten other people who had nothing to do with the making of the cd their cut. So thank you Prince for sending this resounding “F. U.” to the music industry and give them a taste of what’s up

Frederick Pittman says:

the Genius

If big record labels didnt exploit great artists such as Prince and many others like him. It probably wouldnt have come to this. He can give away his music if he chooses too. Prince sees that profit isnt everything and wants only to compose and make great music and be free to dowith it as he wishes after all its his music.I am definately sure he has enough money. I mean how much is enough.

Frederick Pittman says:

the Genius

If big record labels didnt exploit great artists such as Prince and many others like him. It probably wouldnt have come to this. Prince is setting the tone and taking advantage of the resources at his disposal just as any other smart business man or woman. Its simple maximize exposure to reach a better market for himself.Lets face it the man is not only musically inclined. He is wise on many other aspects of life as well. He can give away his music if he chooses too. Prince sees that profit isnt everything and wants only to compose and make great music and be free to do with it as he wishes after all its his music.I am definately sure he has enough money. I mean really it all stems from major record companies having to much control over another individual art form.

PurpleSurfeit says:

Naming hits after Purple Rain

Raspberry Beret * Pop Life * Kiss * U Got the Look * Batdance * Thieves in the Temple * Gett Off * Cream * Diamonds and Pearls * Money Don’t Matter 2 Night * 7 * Pink Cashmere * The Most Beautiful Girl in the World… and many many more.

Everyone review the real issue and I think Prince has stressed this point in many medium/interviews. The artists aren’t the ones getting paid for the art. You go to the store buy the CD for about $15. Like he asked Jay Leno, how much do you think would be fair to the artists. Jay said, “I don’t know I guess about 50%.” With just an hypothesis Prince showed that he was making more than this and artists that has these flashy contracts that sound big are really pretty much “getting screwed.” Hence, Prince opened his eyes and willingly walked away from a reported six album, $100-million dollar deal ($108 M according to some sources) in 1993… “all that glitters ain’t gold,” he sang.

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