The Charlatans might be wondering about the direction Alan McGee (professor of Pop at the University of Gloucestershire) is taking them in, with the news that he's decided they're going to give away their new material. For free:
So, having identified The Charlatans' target market as, erm, nineteen year old boys in Bratislava rather than the slightly pudgy thirtysomething Madchester survivors you or I might have pictured as being at their heart, McGee is electing to make it all available for nothing.
Except, of course, McGee's nineteen year old who'd be getting the album for free now would have been getting it for free anyway, so there's no loss there, but a large number of people would have paid for the record who now will be getting it for nothing. Sure, under the Sanctuary deal, they'd have been getting buttons for their share of the cake, but a small pile of buttons will keep you warm better than a large bunch of nothing. And will the extra tshirts and extra tickets make up that pile? Especially since the band usually sell out their tour dates anyway.
In addition, making the tracks totally free strips them out of chart contention - and pulls them away from Amazon and it's recommendation system - reducing the band's visibility as much as they giveaway will raise it.
We love that McGee has shifted to try something new, but it does bother us that simply giving away the tracks is as unworkable an idea as trying to keep them locked-up. Could McGee not have had effect he hoped for, without costing the band a small fortune, by making the singles available for nothing but keeping an album package back? Just because some people will always find a way to avoid paying doesn't mean it's a compelling business argument to turn away people who want to pay.
Still, should Tim Burgess find himself on his uppers and need a place to kip, we're more than willing to offer him a duvet and a can of soup.