Come the revolution

prince1Prince’s new album, Planet earth, was given away with a rag of a Sunday paper today, causing quite a furore in the “music industry.” The Mail on Sunday may be a horrible paper, but I made up for it by buying a couple of fairtrade dubble bars at the same time. That’s one of the best excuses for buying a dubble bar I’ve had all week.

Here’s what’s left worth keeping from the shopping trip. Just the CD and the dubble bars.Prince 2

The furore was caused by a new album being given away free. Shock, horror cried the “industry”, the sky is falling. Cover mounts are destroying the “industry”, Prince is betraying record stores who stock his cd’s etc etc. This is the same “industry” who used to declare in huge letters on record sleeves in the eighties that “Home taping is killing music – and its illegal.” The same industry who continues to make a huge profit, more than in the eighties. Oh how we’re shedding tears for them as they continue to spread their FUD.

Prince is supposed to have made £250,000 from the giveaway. The paper covered the cost in the hope of recouping it in increased circulation and advertising revenue, which is why they’ve been trailing it for a month. Money is still being made, the problem of the complainers is that their music sales profit monopoly is being threatened. Like a record store like HMV really cares, the last Prince release sold only 80,000 in the UK in total. They’re concerned about the precedent.

In the meantime, Prince makes a new chunk of money without the record company making any (still finding it hard to care about that, anyone who has ever seen a cross-collatoralisation deal would probably agree) and gets lots of publicity for his 21 live shows in London. Artist makes money, record company gets none, fans get new album legit and cheap. I’m betting this won’t be the last time we see this done. Meanwhile, the “music business” (who are everything about business, music is just the way they try and make their money) has a new worry they can’t even threaten their customers with, a la file sharing. This is the same “music business” who, as their power has grown and grown, has turned music from something we participate in, something that we play and enjoy together, socially and creatively, into something that others do, where we are entertained by “professionals” and encouraged to consume, not create. In return for believing that “we couldn’t do that” we’re fed a stream of sub-standard, here today, gone tomorrow pap by the “professionals.” Who can forget the musical inspiration that was “The fast food song.” Music business, we shed such tears for you. To paraphrase one of the new songs on Prince’s CD, “I love you baby, but not like I love my guitar.”

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