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I have just bought the new CD 20ten by Prince (July 10). Well I didn't actually buy the CD, I bought a copy of the UK Daily Mirror newspaper for 65 pence (less than a dollar).
The CD was free inside.
And prominent on the front page, it said...
The New Prince Album - Not online! - Not in shops!
So if you can't buy this CD, how is Prince going to make a profit from it?
The answer is...
But hang on, let's consider what would have happened if Prince had sold the CD through the normal channels.
Who would buy the CD?
Prince is a VERY popular artist, but most people already have all the Prince music they want. They will go to his concerts in droves, but not many are interested in anything other than his greatest hits when he was in his prime.
So the CD probably wouldn't sell except to really hard-core fans. And since the sales figures of CDs are revealed through the charts, it could be a little embarrassing for The Artist if the CD didn't chart well. A similar scenario would apply to download. And anyway, the Internet is "dead". Didn't you know?
But sales figures of newspapers are not in the public eye. They have free offers all the time anyway so to them this is just another of many, and Prince will be a good attraction for them.
People who wouldn't have bought the new CD will get the chance to listen to it for free. So the Daily Mirror pulls in extra sales, and Prince gets valuable publicity, the rewards of which he will reap at his next UK series of concerts.
It sounds like a good business model to me. But is it the future for the distribution of recorded music?
By the way, Prince has done this before, with Planet Earth, so clearly he likes to work this way.
P.S. Audio Masterclass review: If you like Prince, you'll like this.