Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Prince and the bigger splash

The record shops are up in arms about the plan to give away Prince's new album with the Mail On Sunday. The man from HMV called it "absolute madness". They reckon that if this goes on, Prince's albums will no longer be stocked in record shops. (Coo. And my Dad's a policeman.)
For Prince it makes absolute sense; he gets his umpteenth record in the hands of millions of people who wouldn't otherwise buy it and he also gets a large cheque from the Mail. They big him up in an almost comic fashion, describing him as "rock's greatest superstar" and claiming he has "millions of fans" who can hardly sleep for thinking about his forty-fifth album.
If Prince has the slightest scintilla of self-effacement (I know, stay with me) he knows that his record will create no excitement if he takes the conventional retail route. By taking the MOS option he creates the effect that every other new release thinks they're getting but aren't - that of a large rock thrown into still water. He grows his fan base and gets paid for doing it.
The people who should probably be thinking twice are The Mail On Sunday. How long can Sunday newspapers go on spending eye watering sums of money in order to carve out a few market share points for just one week? At the moment they're providing a lot of stars with an unexpected pension.


  1. It's interesting to note Prince's decision being poles apart from Mike Oldfield's contempt at Virgin for allowing the MOS to give away Tubular Bells.

    Is Prince a revolutionary (no pun intended) or is he just so desperate to sell tickets (which are relatively cheap) and albums he'll consider anything?

  2. Anonymous9:05 am

    The record stores seem to be displaying a very Olympian attitude to all this, as if they are some how involved in the creative process and deserve a say in how music in distributed. I'll be glad when conglomerates like HMV are wiped off the face of the earth. Through all the so-called desperate times etc their pricing policies still absolutely baffle me. In-store they are STILL selling back catalogue CDs at £15 & £16.99!!
    It seems to me now that a large proportion of artists have given up on making money from record sales and are instead putting their energy into live shows, touring etc. The one experience you still can't really download.
    I'll still feel slightly uncomfortable buying The Daily Mail though, even if it is only for the Prince CD...

  3. Does anyone remember even the smallest amount of exctitement around the last Price album? No. Me neither. Which is job done in my book. I spent years working in record shops but I never set foot in them nowadays and I don't really know anyone who does.

  4. I recently got a job near Berwick st a few years ago it would've been unthinkable that I wouldn't spend my lunch times there browisng the record shops. I've been once in 3 months to get a present, I'm more likely to go the veg market or the chippie!

  5. Anonymous11:05 am

    My tip: wait 2-3 weeks then pick it up in a local charity shop. That way it is a) even cheaper; b) you don't run the risk of being seen in public with a copy of the Mail; c) Prince will still get his fee but none of your many goes directly to the Mail.

  6. I wouldn't mind betting Prince makes more money off this, than any recent royalties from his dodgy albums. Thing is ,if the new single is anything to go by, the album could be a corker. Probably not though!

  7. Anonymous4:32 am

    I think you're right - it's all about promoting the 25 dates, selling the good parts of the back catalogue all over again and the tour merchandise.
    Anyway, perhaps the new album isn't very good, and they might as well get some ready cash in from the Mail, as opposed to wait for the pennies to trickle in from Tesco's 'offer of the week' price of £6.50 or so. How much would that give back per CD? Not a lot I suppose.
    Going back to the merchandise, if my recent experience is repeated, tour programmes for £12, shirts for £25 etc are a much better income bet for the artist on pure markup terms - and for the casual fan, wanting conspicuous 'I was there' kudos, promotional items are better than an innocuous CD. These days, people can't walk about carrying L.P.s to show off who they like, as some people did in the (g)olden days of the Eighties when Prince was in his prime.
    Equally, since that same decade you don't see many people conspicuously carrying the Mail about either, do you.

  8. Anonymous5:49 pm

    The Telegraph mentioned a fee of £500,000 - presumably paid more or less directly to Prince, and surely more than he'd have made from sales of the album in the UK, once Columbia had had their cut.