Friday, June 29, 2007

Princely cheek

Well, they say there's no honour among thieves. I was tickled by this story, in which the wicked Mail on Sunday is robbing the paupers in the music industry by giving away Prince's new album for free.


Let's take a look at some of the hilarity in the article.

One music store executive described the plan as "madness"

Prince is of course noted for his sane approach to business...

while others said it was a huge insult to an industry battling fierce competition from supermarkets and online stores.

So how has that industry "battled" supermarkets and online stores? By lowering prices and offering better service? Has it fuck! It continues to collude in viciously overpricing CDs. There's no reason on the face of it why a big store such as Big W here, or Tesco in the UK, should be able to outcompete Virgin or HMV on price. They don't sell more CDs, so they are not getting an economy of scale. They're able to run at a lower margin because they are bigger and have fewer staff per item, but it's not as though HMV pays its staff well. And online stores kick shops' arses for two reasons: one, they carry a much broader range, and two, you can browse without having some prick badger you asking whether you want help. You know, you'd think they'd have realised by now that if you wanted help, you'd ask for it. But being "helpful" is their purported competitive edge.

Prince's label has cut its ties with the album in the UK to try to appease music stores

Because music stores, far from being put upon, are hugely powerful businesses, with the ability to make or break records and record labels.

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.

You what? How precisely did they support him? Oh yes, by selling his music for a profit! You'd think they were charities to read this guy whining.

"It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music."

Now, here's the heart of it. This is why they're pissed off. Because if Prince can give his album away, we start wondering why new CDs cost us 30 bucks and more. We can all do the maths. Most of us have bought CD spindles, so we know that the pressers get their CDs very cheaply. And the packaging is not breaking the bank either. And we're mostly aware that artists do not do all that well out of the deal. But the whole thing depends on our belief that music is "worth" 30 bucks a CD.

Music stores do not "support" recording artists. Who was the last recipient of the HMV Award for Promising Newcomers? If there was one, you could guarantee that some beancounter would have worked out how it would make money for HMV. Music stores exploit artists, making profits out of others' creativity. Yes, they have "battled" other conduits for music, as have the record labels. But not because they are concerned about artists, or about anything other than the dollar.


At 8:54 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic but you may find him interesting


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