Stuart Dredge writes…
So, Prince released his new album ‘Planet Earth’ in the UK by bundling it for free with last weekend’s Mail On Sunday newspaper. More than three million copies were apparently printed, with some music fans buying several copies with the aim of making their fortune on eBay (although they were soon disappointed).
Music retailers are hopping mad at the giveaway, slating Prince for betraying the support they’ve given his albums over the years (i.e. generously accepting his labels’ marketing spend). But y’know what? Having bagged a copy of the album on Sunday, on reflection I’d rather pay full whack for it. Here’s five reasons why:
1. It meant buying a copy of The Mail on Sunday. Which is a rag.
2. The album doesn’t have a jewel case. In fact, it comes in one of those cardboard covers that most newspaper free CDs use. Admittedly, it’s probably far more eco-friendly, but even so, it means the Prince album will end up in a shoebox on my shelf alongside my ‘New Woman 20 Best Tracks To Bake To’ freebie compilations, rather than on my CD shelves nestling in its rightful place between Primal Scream and the Proclaimers. Swizz.
3. No sleevenotes either. Even if it was a few out-of-focus arty photos and lyrics in a scrawly faux-handwritten font that I can’t read, it’d be nice to have them. Now I’ll never know who played Timpani on ‘Future Baby Mama’, or how bonkers Prince’s thankyou list is.
4. It’s another step down the road to making music a commodity. Okay, so we’re probably there already, given the popularity of file-sharing and the amount of free music you can get by buying all the Sunday newspapers one week. But it still feels a bit wrong that music – new, studio-based music, not ropey live tracks – is now just another weapon in the Old Media circulation wars.
5. Couldn’t Prince deal with his fans directly? If he really wants to give ‘Planet Earth’ away, why not distribute it online as DRM-free digital tracks? Or (to ensure this fits with my ‘I’d pay full-whack for it’ argument), couldn’t he sell it to us himself? Or hire someone to create an embeddable Facebook widget to stream it? Or something else technologically innovative? It’s not as if he can’t afford to pay some smart geeks to make these sorts of things happen.
Don’t expect to make a fortune from selling your Prince Mail on Sunday album on eBay
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