July 14, 2007 / 11:20 PM / in 12 years

Prince angers retailers by giving album away free

LONDON (Reuters) - Rock star Prince gave his latest album away free on Sunday with a British tabloid, to the fury of music retailers.

Musician Prince performs at the taping of the ALMA awards in Pasadena, California June 1, 2007. Prince gave his latest album away free on Sunday with a British tabloid, to the fury of music retailers. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

The Minneapolis maverick, renowned for his run-ins with the music establishment, will also give away copies of “Planet Earth” at a series of London concerts starting next month.

Paul Quirk, co-chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said Prince’s decision to give away the album, which is not scheduled to go on sale until July 24, with copies of the Mail on Sunday “beggared belief.”

“The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behavior like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores,” said Quirk in reference to the 1990s when the star stopped using his name.

“It’s an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career,” he said.

The innovative funk artist, who has sold 80 million albums worldwide with ground-breaking works like “Purple Rain,” is unrepentant.

“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,” he said when asked why he was giving his music away.

A spokesman for the singer told The Mail on Sunday: “Prince’s only aim is to get music direct to those who want to hear it.”

“Prince feels that charts are just music industry constructions and have little or no relevance to fans or even artists today.”

In an interview with Reuters last month, Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen Miron said: “No one has ever done this before. We have given away CDs and DVDs but this is just setting a new level.”

British retailer HMV clearly felt it was case of “If you can’t beat them, join them” — it is offering The Mail on Sunday for sale at its stores.

The News of The World, one of the Mail on Sunday’s arch rivals in the competitive tabloid market, was not to be outdone.

In what it billed as a world exclusive, the newspaper offered to give away 1,000 copies of “Purple Rain” in a mobile phone text competition.

Additional reporting by Gavin Haycock and Mike Collett-White

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