Friday, July 9, 2010

Prince: "20ten"

Prince releases his latest studio album, "20Ten", tomorrow via a unique distribution method that he's used before.   It will appear free in various magazines throughout Europe - in the UK, it's the Daily Record.   He used a similar tactic with his "Planet Earth" album, although it was released via more traditional means in the US.   No word yet on a US distribution of "20Ten", but diehard fans who care enough about Prince's music will no doubt have little trouble getting their hands on a copy.

Prince has taken some heat and been the object of some scorn lately for his comments that seemed to suggest the internet is "dead."   Well, let's examine what he is doing here.   He is getting paid upfront by these magazines - presumably huge sums.   He then walks away.   The magazines have the burden of promotion, and they are the ones on the line for production costs and making their sales goals.  Let's face it, Prince is no longer selling huge numbers through traditional music outlets (nor is most everybody else.)   He gets paid without the risk of having a flop album, he gets music to the fans, and is free from the shackles of a major label deal.    He's making far more $$$ on "20ten" by doing this than if he had released it via more traditional means.  If you're Prince, or a Prince fan, what's not to like?  

So from his perspective, maybe the internet IS dead.   He's getting "20ten" into the homes of far more people this way than if he'd released it on iTunes or in record stores.   People who wouldn't bother surfing the web to pay for and download the newest Prince album, or go to the mall and spend $14.99 at FYE, or who may only know Prince from "Purple Rain" will see stacks of the album in their daily newsstand.   It has a far greater reach.    It's really quite a brilliant move.

The paradigm has shifted and the music industry is forever changed.   Prince has been able to successfully manuever through the different landscapes in this industry for 30 years.  He releases what he wants, when he wants, on his own terms.   

It's good to be Prince.

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