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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  1. identicon
    Calvin, 5 Jul 2007 @ 3:37pm

    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

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