The UK’s Mail On Sunday has given away about three million copies of Prince’s new album, Planet Earth. The promotion has generated heated debate in the UK, because some consider the giveaway an insult to the music industry.
The giveaway is a high-profile example of an established musician experimenting with new ways of getting their music into new hands. With the giveaway, Prince is working around traditional promoters, record stations and retailers, cutting a deal that gets millions of his CDs on the street in one day. That means the CD’s reach will be many times his previous release, 3121, which sold about 80,000 copies in the UK.
“It’s direct marketing and I don’t have to be in the speculation business of the record industry which is going through a lot of tumultuous times right now,” said the Minneapolis musician when asked why he was giving the CD away.
“Prince has done this because he makes most of his money these days as a performing artist,” said the Mail on Sunday’s editor, Peter Wright. “He’s got a fantastic series of concerts coming up at the O2 Dome and this is a way of telling people what he’s doing.”
Music Industry Threatens Retaliation Over Free Music
The deal has sent shockwaves through the record industry.
The Entertainment Retailers Association has gone so far as suggesting that Prince, and others that, like him, experiment with alternate ways of promoting their music, will be banned from the industry.“The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores,” said Entertainment Retailers Association co-chairman Paul Quirk recently. “And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday.”