This has been an interesting week in music news. Prince released his new album today, Planet Earth, that created a buzz last week when he gave away 3million copies of the record in a British newspaper(Though the album has been getting mixed reviews). In addition, the New York Times wrote this really insightful article, helping to clarify the theory behind Prince’s innovative business strategies. Even though I have been writing similar pieces about Prince over the years, I think they added a fresh perspective, saying:
I’VE got lots of money!” Prince exults in “The One U Wanna C,” a come-on from his new album, “Planet Earth” (Columbia). There’s no reason to disbelieve him. With a sponsorship deal here and an exclusive show there, worldwide television appearances and music given away, Prince has remade himself as a 21st-century pop star. As recording companies bemoan a crumbling market, Prince is demonstrating that charisma and the willingness to go out and perform are still bankable. He doesn’t have to go multiplatinum — he’s multiplatform.
Prince’s priorities are obvious. The main one is getting his music to an audience, whether it’s purchased or not. “Prince’s only aim is to get music direct to those that want to hear it,” his spokesman said when announcing that The Mail would include the CD. (After the newspaper giveaway was announced, Columbia Records’ corporate parent, Sony Music, chose not to release “Planet Earth” for retail sale in Britain.) Other musicians may think that their best chance at a livelihood is locking away their music — impossible as that is in the digital era — and demanding that fans buy everything they want to hear. But Prince is confident that his listeners will support him, if not through CD sales then at shows or through other deals….
On the other side of things, Kelly Clarkson, my second fav Idol Winner (after Fantasia, of course), has gotten herself in a little trouble for telling the truth. She told Blender Magazine that music demi-god Clive Davis “hated ‘Walk Away’ and Because of You”’ and went further into dealing with her frustrations with her label and the industry in general:
“Everyone keeps saying how hard this record must be, because of all the crap surrounding it, but that last one was really hard to make. I literally got told to my face that it wouldn’t sell more than 600,000 copies. And I got lied to. One reason I don’t like working with people at the label is that they lie. They told me, ‘We really want you to go to Sweden. These people really want to write with you.’ So I flew to Sweden with lyrics I’d written to this track I’d been sent, ‘Since U Been Gone.’ I get there, and the writers are like, ‘Oh, we already have lyrics. We just want you to sing it.’ It was really awkward. It was mean. That’s why there’s no relationship with them. Because I don’t like to be lied to.”
Today, Clarkson announced that she and Davis were OK now, saying “Like any family we will disagree and argue sometimes but, in the end, it’s respect and admiration that will keep us together.”
Right. That’s called, she got a phone call/meeting and probably some thinly veiled threats to retract it or be dropped from the label or in some other way sabotaged.
Whatever the case, labels wonder why record sales are down. I keep saying, it’s not just about the internet or digital media. It’s about the fact that they try to sell an album the way they sell any other widget, and art, my friends doesn’t work that way. They treat artists as commodities, and so you have created a buying public that generally does not respect the art. And if I don’t respect it, why in the hell would I pay money for something I’ve been taught is just like last year’s fashion accessory–
Kelly, take a lesson from Prince. Build your reputation as as a singer/songwriter/live performer, and people will pay to see you–damn a CD you’re not making any money off of anyhow. And that’s something the record labels can’t fuck with.
NOTE: For all of you who have been asking, and holding my feet to the flames, The Donnie “The Daily News” review is coming. I been working like a fiend and need to finish it. It’ll hit this week! I promise!