Last week, HMV was one of a bunch of record shops wailing about plans by Prince to give away his new album with copies of the Mail On Sunday - "absolutely nuts" was HMV chief eexcutive Simon Fox's response.
This week, they've decided to turn themselves into a newsagent and flog copies of the paper instead.
Virgin are livid:
"We're stunned that HMV has decided to take what appears to be a complete U-turn on their stance towards covermounts and particularly in this case, as only a week ago they were so vocal about the damage it will cause," said Simon Douglas, Virgin Retail managing director. "Simon Fox [HMV chief executive] labelled the Mail on Sunday deal as 'devaluing music' and 'absolute madness', now they appear to have joined forces to sell more copies of the very same paper," Mr Douglas added.
"It's not only retailers that suffer; the public will suffer in the long term by restricting choice on the high street. Of course people will take a free CD by a platinum-selling artist like Prince but you only need to look at what's happened to Fopp going into administration to get an idea of the potential long-term impact."
We're surprised to hear the impact of the Prince deal was so enormous that it managed to bring Fopp to its knees a month before it even happened, but those, we guess, are the apocalyptic forces we're dealing with here.
To be honest, we don't quite see why HMV is bothering - it's not like people are going to go out their way to buy the paper at HMV - "we could stroll into the village and get the paper, but instead let's drive to town and fight our way through the crowd of goths to get it"; they may pick up a few sales from people impulse-buying the paper at the checkouts, but we're not sure how many of HMV's customer base would be interested enough in Prince to buy the Mail On Sunday on a whim. Still, it's nice to see yet more consistent and joined-up policy thinking in the music industry.