Thursday, July 19, 2007
Free and Funky in the UK
It's time to forgive him for Under a Cherry Moon.
Last Sunday, Prince fans and funky grandmothers in the United Kingdom got their hands on the new 10-song CD, Planet Earth, simply by buying a newspaper. The Mail on Sunday has bundled CDs several times before, and they usually sell about 2.5 million papers with these promotions. This latest foray de funk was no exception. By way of comparison, the top-selling album this year reached sales of only 1.7 million copies in the U.S. as of July 4.* The promotion is believed to be worth slightly more than $500,000 to the musician, whose hits include Purple Rain, Raspberry Beret and Kiss.
This was pretty much a no-brainer then for Minneapolis’ second favourite son . This is how it worked. He immediately got his music into the hands of 2.5 million people, some of whom might then buy concert tickets, which earn far more money for artists than record sales. (Prince is also giving Planet Earth away to anybody who buys a ticket to his current tour, exactly like he did when he toured his 2004 release Musicology). Pure genius if you're keeping track. Today its all about getting the music into the hands of the people, and if that musician is lucky enough fans will like your new music enough to buy tickets to see your concerts. Heck they'll even know some of the new songs you are playing and not just the classic back catalogue. In 2007, this is what it’s all about. But no, no, no physical music stores, already hurt by the decline of the CD, are not pleased. The CEO of one music retailer, HMV, said it would be "absolutely nuts" to carry the CD for free. Then HMV changed course, and was promptly denounced by rival Virgin Megastores. Are they forgetting at least it would get Prince fans into their store, where they might buy something else? Wise up music retailers; music innovation and creative marketing are exactly what you need, right now. And all it took was some guy from Minnesota to figure it out.
Those who miss the newspaper promotion--including all of us living in North America will have to wait until July 24 to buy the record when it is released on Columbia records.
* American idol Chris Daughtry holds this current title.