Bob Baker's The Buzz Factor
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July 02, 2007
Prince Pisses Off UK Music Retailers
"Prince Album Freebie Draws Industry Ire"
"Music Industry Attacks Free Prince CD"
- In August and September, Prince will perform 21 shows at the new, state-of-the-art 02 Arena in London. The first 15 shows sold out in hours, so six more were added. These will be his only European dates on this tour.
- As with his previous album release, everyone who attends the concerts will get a copy of Prince's new CD, Planet Earth, as part of their admission price.
- What's causing the uproar? Yesterday (Sunday, July 1) UK tabloid the Mail on Sunday gave away about 2 million copies of Planet Earth with every copy of the paper.
Years ago, Prince got out of his contract with Warner Bros and has been operating as an indie. But he uses BMG, one of the major label corporations, to distribute his physical CDs worldwide. With the news of this massive giveaway, the UK arm of Sony BMG is refusing to distribute the CD to stores on that continent.
So, what's the real story here? Who are the losers and winners?
To imply that "the music industry" is enraged by this move is nonsense. Yes, retailers are pissed. They feel that Prince is snubbing the businesses that supported him for so many years. And the music industry establishment (especially at BMG) is upset because an artist with clout is challenging their outdated, decades-old business model.
But the real winners are fans. They are getting access to music easily and without having to jump through hoops.
Prince is a winner, as well. Fans may be getting the CD for free but, reportedly, the Mail on Sunday paid $1 million US for the right to give away the Planet Earth discs.
Plus, the publicity generated by this controversy is creating awareness and buzz about the new CD (which officially goes on sale July 24). Do you think that will lead to sales in countries where the album is not being given away?
The funny thing is, banning the record from UK retail stores makes it even more alluring in that country. If people didn't get the freebie CD and want one, they can still go online and buy one -- and they will.
Other winners: Independent artists the world over who are seeing a great example of alternate ways to reach a lot of fans while also getting paid.
Want more details? Read the Mail on Sunday CD giveaway promo page and Prince's own 3121 label site.
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Bob Baker is an author, speaker, teacher, indie musician and former music magazine editor dedicated to showing musicians of all kinds how to get exposure, connect with fans, sell more music, and increase their incomes.
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