Thursday, June 28, 2007

Prince beats record shops with rolled-up Mail on Sundays

The continued struggle between free music and the people who are trying to make money from selling music has a whole new battle brewing: Prince is apparently talking with the Mail On Sunday about cover-mounting his new album.

Yes, his new album. He wants to give it away for free.

No, we don't know why he's chosen the Mail to be his vessel - surely he doesn't think the average Mail reader crosses over with his target market? - but it's not the paper, it's the very idea:

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) made no secret today of its anger over the Prince plans, saying the rumour of a giveaway "beggars belief".

"It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. "It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music."

"If it turns out to be the case - and we're still trying to get to the bottom of it - The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."

We love the suggestion that the record stores have, until now, been stocking records by one of the world's biggest selling artists as some sort of charitable endeavour, and not because they were selling them at a profit; and that they think that this puts Prince in their debt in some way.

It's sadly hilarious, though, that as an artist finds a way to make money off his music that doesn't involve record shops the record shop reaction is to throw the artist off their shelves. Because reducing your range even further is the way to tempt the customers in.

- Hello, record shop man - I was just enjoying this Prince CD I got free with my paper, and it made me decide to come and buy some of his other records. What have you got?
Record shop manager looks forlornly at smoldering remains of Prince's back catalogue


Anonymous 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"

I've not heard of the Entertainment Retailers Association before - presumably they're like some sort of stereotypical Mafia for record shops? "Mister Prince, it's a nice back-catalogue you've got here... It'd be a shame if anything... happened to it..."

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I do wonder if this trouble has been brewing since they were forced to try and decide where to file records by "small trumpety type thing" in their a to z racks...

Anonymous said...

A record shop I used to frequent in Newcastle filed him under 'S', for 'squiggle'.

M.C. Glammer said...

"destroying any perception of value around recorded music"

What a brilliant idea. It takes ten minutes to write a good song and about six hours to record it. Let's give musos an hourly rate like shelf-stackers and record shop assistants.

Prince has been selling his albums on his website for ages anyway. He sells fewer albums but makes more money, because the record labels and record shops aren't taking their cut.

Anonymous said...

Also ironic after the label insistence that the tubular bells giveaway increased sales.

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