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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Prince - The Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores

Prince is facing a distribution back lash from UK retailers and Sony BMG music.  He had made arrangements to give away close to 2 million free copies of his new album with a UK newspaper.

Local retailers thought the free albums would compete too much with their own sales efforts and investments and complained to Sony BMG, who had nothing to do with the free give away.  Sony BMG then decided to pull the plug on the scheduled release of Prince's album for the UK. 

Paul Quirk of the Entertainment Retailers Association offered a notable quote and possibly a veiled threat considering the source, "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behavior like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores." 

In all fairness to retailers, they have to purchase the inventory and dedicate shelf space and store signage to promote the sale of a new album.  Plus they have a lot of indirect costs to support from rent, salaries, even payroll software, so when the market receives an infusion of 2 million free albums that will have an impact on retail sales. Many people that want the CD will receive it free. Many that receive it free and do not want it could sell it on Ebay for a fraction of the retail price as well. So there is a legitimate concern there. Prince has been shopping his album contracts around since leaving Warner Music under a contentious relationship and contract that made Prince feel like a slave driving the change of his name from Prince to a symbol that was not trademarked and locked up in a contract.

Link to Prince Free Album Causes BMG U.K. to Pull Distribution -