News that Prince has “given away” his new album, Planet Earth, free with a UK National newspaper this morning has created quite a stir in both the press and the music industry.
Although I can applaud the apparent sense of largesse behind the move – “giving music back to the fans” – I nevertheless agree with those who think that the strategy is ill conceived and ill thought out.
I’m sure much of Prince’s real motivation is a huge desire to cheese-off all those music industry bigwigs and fat cats who have leeched off him and other artists over the years, hampered his creativity and degraded the art form by dunging it about with the cursed accoutrements of business and commerce. I can well sympathise.
Except that it’s not the fat cats who’ll suffer from the eventual disappearance of the high street music store that this move seems to herald. It’s the shop workers, the stock buyers and all those ordinary people who work in the industry who’ll suffer the most. And these people have usually got into this line of work precisely because they are music fans. The very fans in fact that Prince wishes to lavish his generosity upon.
It’s fine for Prince. He evidently doesn’t need the money. He’s also big-egoed enough to cold-shoulder the inevitable “his album was so bad he had to give it away” jibes that will inevitably follow his recent bout of munificence.
But speaking as someone who’s brother-in-law has recently lost their job – without any kind of payment or compensation whatsoever – due to the collapse of the Fopp record store chain I agree with those who think that Prince’s album give-away is just a mighty kick in the teeth for those who have contributed to Prince’s material success over the past 4 decades.
If Prince wanted to show off his benevolence then why not give all the proceeds of the album sales to charity? Doesn’t it make better sense to make money for a good cause than to make no money whatsoever?
Preventing some company bigwig from buying yet another timeshare in the Algarve is one thing. Taking food of the table of an ordinary bloke in the high street is something else entirely.
Sigh, you’re damn right it is.