Copies of Prince’s latest album have flooded the internet after being given away with a newspaper in the UK.Planet Earth is easily accessible to fans around the world – despite plans for a full commercial release in countries including the US.
The album is freely available to download after an estimated three million copies of the CD were distributed with the Mail on Sunday.
Hundreds of the CDs have also been put up for sale on auction site eBay.
Planet Earth is not being sold in record shops in the UK because of the Mail on Sunday promotion.
Since he wants to get his music out to as many people as possible, I ripped the CD and uploaded it
But it is still due to be sold as normal elsewhere, including a release in the US and Canada on 24 July.
One blogger who posted the full album on the web wrote: “Seeing as it was free anyway… we decided to stick it up here for anyone who didn’t get it.
“This seems to be the way forward. With the music being free, the artists make their money from merchandising and touring, and the digital revolution may yet be the downfall of major labels. No harm in our book!”
Another person who put the album online wrote: “Since he wants to get his music out to as many people as possible, I ripped the CD and uploaded it.”
It comes amid the music industry’s efforts to persuade fans not to download music from unlicensed, unofficial sources.
The newspaper giveaway has already angered record shops, who say music should not be regarded as a cheap, disposable commodity.
Kim Bayley, director general of the Entertainment Retailers’ Association, said the move devalued music.
“The losers will be new artists who are trying to come through who won’t have any support from recording companies because established artists are chucking out their music for free,” she said.
Prince is also giving away the album at his concerts
“Consumers only have so much listening time in the week and if they receive the new album from Prince then they don’t need to buy new music and will spend their money on something else.”
The promotion was believed to have been worth about £250,000 to the musician.
Planet Earth has had largely positive reviews, with The Times saying it was “too good to be so lightly sold”.
But The Guardian’s critic wrote: “While Prince will never entirely be written off, his 46th album will mostly be remembered for the hype surrounding the means of release.”
The US pop star also plans to give away copies to fans attending one of his 21 concerts at London’s O2 arena next month.
That means it will reach many more listeners than the artist’s last album, 3121, which sold 80,000 copies in the UK.
“It’s direct marketing and I don’t have to be in the speculation business of the record industry, which is going through a lot of tumultuous times right now,” said the Minneapolis musician when asked why he was giving the CD away.
The Mail on Sunday’s editor, Peter Wright, told BBC Five Live: “Prince has done this because he makes most of his money these days as a performing artist.”
Mr Wright confirmed that the newspaper had paid Prince for the licence to produce the CD, and had paid to press and distribute it, but hoped to make money by selling extra copies of the paper and extra advertising.
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