PRINCE AND THE YAWN OF DIGITAL

Posted by | July 12, 2010 | 2,726 views

It’s time to pack your bags people, the internet’s over. Yes, that’s right, according to Prince. In some ways it’s probably one of the most refreshing things that’s been said of late.

The whole argument of whether the future of music is in X or Y digital model, whilst having substantial import, has become tiresome.

Whether Prince is right or wrong, one must acquiesce in the fact that his ability to operate from without the conceptual box, free from the constraints of industry dogmatism and at times, perhaps reason, is what has kept his career alive.

As if asserting that the internet is nothing more than a bit of a fad wasn’t enough, the artist’s forthcoming album is, once more, to find its way into the hands of music fans via the morning paper. According to Music Week: “ More than 2.5 million copies of 20Ten were given away with the Daily Mirror and Daily Record on Saturday July 10”

There are differing views as to the effectiveness of an exclusively covermount-based release. Paul Quirk, chairman of the ERA suggests such a move could, “kill his CD sales career stone dead.” But does that matter?

The release of Planet Earth via covermount helped Prince to generate significant sales for his O2 residency, deferring the losses resulting from the giveaway. One could argue that either way, an artist of his calibre would be expected to fare well in the live arena; non-traditional release methodologies notwithstanding.

Giving away your art for free can be a great way to secure mass (though shallow) interest in your work, but unless this is followed up with something a bit special/deluxe, something worth cherishing, one may fear Prince’s covermount release could end up as a fancy coaster.

To be honest, Prince’s decision deserves great respect. I’d rather see an artist try something new and fail, then replicate the actions and thought processes of the herd. It’s what the industry needs.

The inherent originality of Prince’s business approach reflects his artistic nature, and on that basis one can’t class his actions as being right or wrong. They are one man’s unique approach to a shared challenge.

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Posted by on Jul 12 2010. Filed under Business Models, Digital, featured, Labels, Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Comments for “PRINCE AND THE YAWN OF DIGITAL”

  1. Anonymous

    “I’d rather see an artist try something new and fail, then replicate the actions and thought processes of the herd. It’s what the industry needs.”

    Sure. CDs are the most original thing today.

  2. Daniel

    Very true Seamus. Very clever of him to have thrown that comment in our faces, at the point at which the internet is playing such a central role to our operations, (and debates!).

  3. I think that there has been an upside to Prince’s comment that has been mostly overlooked: he has very cleverly made everybody talk about him again. All publicity is good publicity and will I hold his comment against him if his new music is great music? Nope – hell he was probably kidding anyway. Publicity genius – he OWNS the word “controversy”.

  4. Prince received a sizeable advance from the newspaper he released his previous record through as a covermount. So it may be given away “free” to the consumer, but Prince still receives a hefty advance from the Newspaper cover mounting the record. I’m sure the situation is the same this time round.

    Furthermore, the labels and ERA are pissed off because they miss out on receiving 80% – 85% of the retail price. In the scenario that Prince is releasing his record, it is arguable that he will actually make a lot more than he would have done if he had released it the traditional way via the labels and retailers.

    However, unknown artists cannot afford to give away their music for free and neither can the labels who fund and develop new artists … which is a very costly and risky business scenario. Newspapers will not cover-mount artists with no profile! And understandably so…

    But lets be very clear; whether it be Radiohead or Prince – they all had massive investment marketing wise over numerous years form labels. This investment has enabled these artists to test new models and do what they want. It is highly questionable that either artist would have been able to attain such massive fan bases without this label investment for numerous previous albums.

    The conundrum is thus: how do we secure the continued investment in new talent when larger artists who have already been processed through the corporate label machine leave at their most profitable stage to the labels, and start giving away their music for free (albeit receiving sizable advances to enable brands to give away the music for free)?

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