The eagerly awaited new album by Prince is being launched as a free CD with a national Sunday newspaper in a move that has drawn widespread criticism from music retailers.
The Mail on Sunday revealed yesterday that the 10-track Planet Earth CD will be available with an "imminent" edition, making it the first place in the world to get the album. Planet Earth will go on sale on July 24.
The Entertainment Retailers Association said the giveaway "beggars belief". "It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. "It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music.
"The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."
High street music giant HMV was similarly scathing about the plans. Speaking before rumours of a giveaway were confirmed, HMV chief executive Simon Fox said: "I think it would be absolutely nuts. I can't believe the music industry would do it to itself. I simply can't believe it would happen; it would be absolute madness."
Prince, whose Purple Rain sold more than 11m copies, also plans to give away a free copy of his latest album with tickets for his forthcoming concerts in London. The singer had signed a global deal for the promotion and distribution of Planet Earth in partnership with Columbia Records, a division of music company Sony BMG. A spokesman for the group said last night that the UK arm of Sony BMG had withdrawn from Prince's global deal and would not distribute the album to UK stores.
I am not a Prince fan but I can only applaud what he is doing here - there are not many big stars who will actually give their fans something for nothing. And as for The Entertainment Retailers Association - they are only thinking of how much money they can screw out of the record buying public.
The Entertainment Retailers Association say 'It is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career'. You cannot be serious - it has not been the record stores who have supported Prince, it has been his loyal fans and they deserve to be given some consideration. Record stores have been charging over the odds for CD's for years - now it's payback time.
Mail on Sunday: will be giving the CD away free on 15th July.
Single from Prince's New Album 'Planet Earth'