by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 23rd 2007 6:50am
Last month, we wrote about how the musician Prince had been pissing off a bunch of music retailers in the UK by having a newspaper give away a free copy of his latest album with every issue. The New York Times has a great article looking at this, and giving a more detailed explanation of Prince's strategy for music distribution that supports a lot of what we talk about here. Basically, Prince produces a ton of new music and is constantly in the studio coming up with more music, but he then uses that music in a variety of ways to generate revenue from all different areas -- often recognizing that the music helps make a ton of other aspects of his business more valuable. He also seems to realize a key point in understanding the difference between music that hasn't yet been created (which is scarce) and music that has been created (which is abundant). As such, he has done a number of deals that getting someone to pay him upfront to create music (you can get people to pay for something that's scarce) but then giving that content away for free. In the latest case, the newspaper is paying for the album, because it's going to help get them a lot more attention for their newspaper. This is the same thing that's actually happening in China as well, where piracy is rampant, but there's plenty of new music -- because sponsors are willing to pay to have it created. Either way, Prince continues to provide evidence that nearly everything the recording industry insists must be true isn't actually true -- and he's doing quite well from the sound of things. The continued publicity is helping him sell out a ton of really expensive concert venues according to the article.
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