Everyone keeps saying that Prince gave away his album. He didn’t. That paper “Mail on Sunday” paid him around $500,000 to give away 2.9 million cds of “Planet Earth” with their paper.
See an article below from “Goldstein’s killed column” by Kevin Roderick for more insight.
England’s Mail on Sunday and Prince — two symbols of two embattled businesses — stuck their big toes into the future, a future that has looked increasingly bleak for both the record industry and the newspaper business. In a move that sent shock waves across the British music business, the country’s leading tabloid distributed 2.9 million free copies of Prince’s new “Planet Earth” CD with its Sunday paper, reaping a publicity bonanza and a big bump in advertising as well.
But the real winner was Prince. In an era where record sales are plummeting, Prince got his new music into the hands of millions of fans while pocketing a reported $500,000 payment from the paper. Most record store owners in England have protested by refusing to carry the artist’s new CD while his record company, Sony, has suspended its release in England. But Prince, who seems to have as much brilliance as an entrepreneur as an artist, is laughing all the way to the bank.
Like most artists his age, Prince, 49, doesn’t top the charts anymore. His last album, “3121,” sold roughly 80,000 copies in the UK. He makes most of his money through touring — his last major tour, in 2004, sold $87.4 million in tickets, dwarfing anything he could make from CD sales. For him, giving away his record free — as he is for anyone who buys a ticket to one of his UK concerts, most of which have already sold out — is a way of creating exposure and excitement. That transfers into concert sales, which is how most artists, outside of a few pop stars, make the vast majority of their money these days. What older artists need today is a marketing partner, not a record company. The Eagles have Wal-Mart, Paul McCartney has Starbucks and now Prince has the Mail on Sunday.