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Thread started 04/30/04 11:28am

cryndove

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Prince CD Sparks Debate

May 08, 2004
Prince CD Sparks Debate
Concert Premiums Counted For Chart

BY ED CHRISTMAN AND GEOFF MAYFIELD

http://www.billboard.com/...1000500662

Instead of "Musicology," Prince should have gone back into his catalog and named his new album "Controversy."

That is what he is once again stirring up as he distributes "Musicology" free to fans at his shows. Nielsen SoundScan is counting those copies as sales.

Of the 191,000 copies of "Musicology" Nielsen SoundScan tracked for the week ending April 18, 12,600—6%—were counted from his April 21 concert in Columbia, S.C. The album hit No. 3 on The Billboard 200.

Even factoring out the concert CDs, Prince would have achieved that chart position.

While Nielsen SoundScan has traditionally captured sales at concerts, it usually does so by counting albums sold at merchandising tables. This is the first time it has counted sales where a concert attendee gets an album as part of the ticket price.

Every show on the Prince tour, which opened in March and is expected to last until August, will likely see copies of "Musicology" distributed to attendees. To date, 250,000 copies have been distributed during the tour, reports L. Londell McMillan, Prince's attorney.

CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO

From McMillan's point of view, Nielsen SoundScan's first-week sales should have included all the albums distributed through the tour so far.

With this distribution method, Prince "is challenging the status quo," McMillan says.

While Prince is applauded for using that unique channel, label sales and distribution executives appear split on whether the sales should be included in Nielsen SoundScan totals.

"I am violently against this," one senior distribution executive says. "This is worse than 49 cent singles. The charts are supposed to represent what consumers are spending money on. With the Prince album, there is no choice."

Another distribution executive says, "It's opening Pandora's box. It will be one more way for record companies to have to spend too much money in an attempt to influence a chart, and you can imagine that everyone will dive in and have a CD with a purchase of everything, let alone concert tickets."

But Phil Quartararo, executive VP of EMI Recorded Music North America, disagrees, saying Prince's concert sales should absolutely be counted.

"A sale is a sale," he says. "Our job is to put music in the consumers' hands, when, where and how they want it. The music company of the future has to be able to sell through conventional means as well as nontraditional ways."

Sony Music Entertainment distributes the new album. In a statement, the company said, "To ensure that SoundScan numbers accurately reflect the realities of the marketplace, it makes sense that sales of 'Musicology' generated through ticket buys are included in their tally."

Nielsen SoundScan CEO Rob Sisco wonders what all the fuss is about.

He asks how the company could not count the concert sales. "The manufacturer was paid by the promoter, who is reselling the merchandise to the consumer," he says. "Given that there is a sale . . . with the album ending up in the hands of the consumer, and we can confirm this, we feel we should count the sales."

Sisco notes that Prince's approach is new and carries a certain degree of controversy.

"This is an ongoing process," he says. "Our goal is to count every possible legitimate music sale but at the same time to engage in an open dialogue with the music industry on how best to accomplish that."

PRINCE SETS PACE

Meanwhile, Prince's "Musicology" move is already being duplicated.

According to a press release, Virgin Records, Clear Channel Entertainment and PromoWest will allow fans in select markets on the band Gomez's tour to "opt in" and buy the band's new album.

Label executives, unaware of the Gomez offer, say they would support concert sales with an opt-in choice being counted toward the charts.

In the Gomez offer, fans can either buy a ticket to the show or pay $10 more to purchase a package that includes its "Split the Difference" album and exclusive downloads from the concert they attend.

The album can be picked up at the merchandising table at the show by presenting a special ticket, while an e-mail will provide the bonus download URL within two weeks after the concert.

While many executives worry that bundling CDs with concert tickets will play havoc with the charts, the question remains, How many artists ultimately can afford to follow Prince's example?

NEW TRICK FOR OLD ACTS

Label executives mainly see heritage acts as being able to afford to duplicate the Prince strategy. In fact, some label executives already report that managers of such bands are fascinated by the concept.

"Take this to its logical conclusion: A dinosaur act that no longer sells records but does great live business can do a stadium tour over the summer and dominate The Billboard 200," one label executive says.

But some label executives are looking beyond the impact of the chart and see the strategy as a legitimate marketing tool to reach any act's core fan base.

"Would an older, financially secure fan—who doesn't get out to record stores as much and is not aware of whether his favorite band has a new album out—purchase that album if they were given the chance at the time that they bought a concert ticket for that artist?" one label executive asks.

That executive says the answer is yes, and going forward, all heritage acts should consider this possibility.

Sony Music is thinking along those lines too in marketing "Musicology."

This tactic gives "fans who attend Prince's concerts . . . immediate access to the new album, which will build word-of-mouth about the album, drive sales at retail and further the relationship between this extraordinary artist and his fans," the company said in a statement.

The debut week for "Musicology" represents Prince's largest sales week—191,000 copies—since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. His previous best SoundScan week was set in that same year, when his album with the New Power Generation, "Diamonds and Pearls," bowed at No. 5 with 172,000 copies.

While "Musicology" has a larger opening week than the 1999 album "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic," Prince's last collection of new material to be distributed through a major label, the markets where his current tour has already played contribute less to the new album's first-week sales than they did to the first week for "Rave."

Collectively, the 18 markets that Prince played from March 29 through April 25 accounted for 19.7% of first-week sales for "Rave" five years ago.

This time, those same markets account for 15.4% of the new album's overall total (including CDs distributed at his show in Columbia, S.C.) and 16.5% of almost 179,000 copies that were sold in stores or online.

In all, there have been more market drivers in play for the new album than there have been for any Prince album in the past decade. The once-reclusive artist has also been more visible this year than he has been in some time.

Additional reporting by Keith Caufield in Los Angeles.

© 2004 VNU eMedia Inc. All rights reserved.
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Reply #1 posted 04/30/04 12:05pm

moonshine

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Prince all over the charts and creating controversy for the record business too,its just like 1984 again biggrin

"The charts are supposed to represent what consumers are spending money on. With the Prince album, there is no choice."

Surely the choice was made when the consumer bought the concert ticket , they knew they were getting the album also ,they've paid for a product and got it .
Check out Chocadelica , updated with Lotusflow3r and MPLSound album lyrics April 2nd 2009 :
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Reply #2 posted 04/30/04 12:15pm

bsbd2luvr

I compare this somewhat to when Mariah Carey's "Loverboy" went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, even though the single stalled on radio. That's because single sales weigh more heavily than radio airplay. This is the reason why songs have to get close to 8,000 spins on Top 40 radio to make Top 10 on the chart. I guess that's the equivalent of selling a ton of singles. However, the difference between Mariah and Prince's situations is that Prince is selling regardless of the albums given to concertgoers. Mariah wasn't going anywhere on the radio, so selling the single looked like a more desperate move. Anyway, I think it's great Prince is doing this. I really hope other artists start doing it because $75 doesn't seem like such a crazy price to pay when there's a $20 CD to go with it.
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Reply #3 posted 04/30/04 12:17pm

jcfii

In the Gomez offer, fans can either buy a ticket to the show or pay $10 more to purchase a package that includes its "Split the Difference" album and exclusive downloads from the concert they attend.

The album can be picked up at the merchandising table at the show by presenting a special ticket, while an e-mail will provide the bonus download URL within two weeks after the concert.



I really like this "bundling" idea.
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Reply #4 posted 04/30/04 12:21pm

Anxiety

bsbd2luvr said:

Anyway, I think it's great Prince is doing this. I really hope other artists start doing it because $75 doesn't seem like such a crazy price to pay when there's a $20 CD to go with it.


If the CD handed out at concerts were the same as what you could get at the wrecka stow, I'd agree with this statement...but considering audiences get a CD with no liner notes packaged in a fairly generic slipcover, I'd say that's a $8 - $10 CD (comparing the price to NPGMC downloads, which are generic as well, but at least you can purchase 'em in the convenience of your home).
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Reply #5 posted 04/30/04 12:22pm

MendesCity

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moonshine said:

Prince all over the charts and creating controversy for the record business too,its just like 1984 again biggrin

"The charts are supposed to represent what consumers are spending money on. With the Prince album, there is no choice."

Surely the choice was made when the consumer bought the concert ticket , they knew they were getting the album also ,they've paid for a product and got it .


God, you can practically smell the fear coming off those execs...Still, I don't think it really should work this way. The chart should have a clear definition of what it is. Bottom line: We were paying for the concert and we had no choice in whether we got the CD or not. Maybe the charts themselves need to change.
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Reply #6 posted 04/30/04 12:22pm

NUMBERTWOFANAT
IC

I definitely feeling the article!

A sale is a sale is a sale is a sale.

Maybe when the new Purple Rain DVD comes out that it should be added also. Dominate the home video chart too!
[This message was edited Fri Apr 30 12:23:03 2004 by NUMBERTWOFANATIC]
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Reply #7 posted 04/30/04 12:46pm

OdysseyMiles

Yeah, I think the fear coming from a lot of these execs is hilarious.
As if their precious empire is going down.
Prince is once again presenting an alternative way to do business. That's all. cool
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Reply #8 posted 04/30/04 12:59pm

MarcelJ

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OdysseyMiles said:

Yeah, I think the fear coming from a lot of these execs is hilarious.
As if their precious empire is going down.
Prince is once again presenting an alternative way to do business. That's all. cool


They need to Gett Off the Little Old Guitar Playin' Man's back!
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Reply #9 posted 04/30/04 1:04pm

metalorange

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Well, we've already had this discussion on the org! I said there would be interesting ramifications from this decision to include album giveaways on the charts, but did you lot believe me? Oh nooo...!

Charts are made on the albums sold that week, not cumulative. An act would have to do quite a few sell-out dates at large arenas to make an impact on the charts - as they say in the article, the last Prince concert added only 12,600 to that weeks totals and that wouldn't have effected his chart position - and most acts wouldn't be able to keep up a tour that intensive for very long.

If they can measure the difference between how many were given away at concerts and how many were sold at retail outlets, then there's not a problem - they can just have a total figure with the giveaways in brackets - and still be able to guage how popular an album is.

I like how they say 'heritage' acts - a polite way of saying 'over the hill' acts! No wonder established acts like Prince have a hard time making waves if they are regarded as ye olde heritage 'dinosaur' acts by the record companies! Somewhat insulting! Like saying I am a fan of vintage motorcars rather than just what happens to be good!

"Ye Olde Red Corvette..."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Prince. You are over the hill and we are going to have to put you down...It's for the best, we need to make room for the Beyonce's and Usher's of this world - you know, happening, with it, acts. You have a new big album on the way, you say? C'mon, now, that's not very likely, is it?!"
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Reply #10 posted 04/30/04 1:04pm

BorisFishpaw

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Hmm,
There's definitely something wrong with this, and it could open a pandora's box of problems.


...So there'd be nothing wrong, if say, Mariah Carey cut a deal with a chain of gas stations and
gave away an album with every gallon of gas... and ended up topping the charts for a whole
year with an album of her humming the theme tunes to TV shows in the bathroom?
[This message was edited Fri Apr 30 13:06:26 2004 by BorisFishpaw]
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Reply #11 posted 04/30/04 1:07pm

suedehead

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Since this has never been done before, I applaud Prince for attempting something new. However, in all fairness, I think an "opt in" approach would be more appropriate. What happens when you attend multiple shows? You get multiple CDs, which counts as multiple sales .... when most likely, you only wanted one. IMO, this is where it gets a little deceptive. A question that comes to mind, is Prince only doing this to influence chart position? In other words, if they decide to stop counting the concert CDs as sales, will he still use this method? He might, after he's still getting paid for the CD ... but is it merely chart position motivating him?
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Reply #12 posted 04/30/04 1:14pm

sro100

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Great article. Prince sets the way once again.
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Reply #13 posted 04/30/04 1:33pm

Vibrator

suedehead said:

Since this has never been done before, I applaud Prince for attempting something new. However, in all fairness, I think an "opt in" approach would be more appropriate.


I was just about to post this very opinion. It's a novel idea, and we all love Prince since he is constantly breaking new ground, but to force people to buy the album just because they want to see a concert isn't right. I definitely see how the exec's "no choice" comment has a certain validity in this case. It's a bit like when Michael Jackson forced his fans to buy the old hits again for the thousandth time if they wanted the new songs on HiStory. It's clearly not quite "fair" and doesn't give you an accurate idea of how interested people were in the old songs (or the new for that matter).

If they only let people decide whether or not the album should be included in the ticket price, the problem is solved. Then it's definitely a "legitimate" sale. Simple.
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Reply #14 posted 04/30/04 1:40pm

sextonseven

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suedehead said:

Since this has never been done before, I applaud Prince for attempting something new. However, in all fairness, I think an "opt in" approach would be more appropriate. What happens when you attend multiple shows? You get multiple CDs, which counts as multiple sales .... when most likely, you only wanted one. IMO, this is where it gets a little deceptive. A question that comes to mind, is Prince only doing this to influence chart position? In other words, if they decide to stop counting the concert CDs as sales, will he still use this method? He might, after he's still getting paid for the CD ... but is it merely chart position motivating him?



Prince doesn't care about the charts. He just wants the music to get out (and get paid). He had no idea Billboard would count those "free" CDs as sales. I had no idea too. I thought only sales through stores (retail and online) would have counted. However, it's always been a Billboard policy that sales count from a specific vendor only if the product is available elsewhere. That's why all the the CDs from the earlier shows didn't count.
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Reply #15 posted 04/30/04 1:42pm

Universaluv

Vibrator said:

suedehead said:

Since this has never been done before, I applaud Prince for attempting something new. However, in all fairness, I think an "opt in" approach would be more appropriate.


I was just about to post this very opinion. It's a novel idea, and we all love Prince since he is constantly breaking new ground, but to force people to buy the album just because they want to see a concert isn't right. I definitely see how the exec's "no choice" comment has a certain validity in this case. It's a bit like when Michael Jackson forced his fans to buy the old hits again for the thousandth time if they wanted the new songs on HiStory. It's clearly not quite "fair" and doesn't give you an accurate idea of how interested people were in the old songs (or the new for that matter).

If they only let people decide whether or not the album should be included in the ticket price, the problem is solved. Then it's definitely a "legitimate" sale. Simple.



Although I agree that the opt-in approach definitely has its appeal, I'm just gonna guess that Prince is playing much larger venues than "Gomez", which would defintely add to the degree of difficulty in trying to make sure that only those who opted in got their cd's and noone was left out. I can just about guarantee that the Concert forum would be dominated by "I didn't get my cd at the show" posts.

For the first time trying something on this scale it makes practical sense to take the easy road and give every one a cd and factor the price into all the tickets , which by the way are pretty reasonably priced to begin with.
.
[This message was edited Fri Apr 30 13:49:57 2004 by Universaluv]
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Reply #16 posted 04/30/04 1:45pm

jcfii

Prince doesn't care about the charts. He just wants the music to get out (and get paid). He had no idea Billboard would count those "free" CDs as sales. I had no idea too. I thought only sales through stores (retail and online) would have counted. However, it's always been a Billboard policy that sales count from a specific vendor only if the product is available elsewhere. That's why all the the CDs from the earlier shows didn't count.



Actually, he's always been pretty certain that these would count as "sales." I remember one interview where he said something to the effect that Norah Jones had better "look out" once Musicology dropped, because he was going to be doing big numbers when you included the givaways.
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Reply #17 posted 04/30/04 2:20pm

ultrraviolette

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I definitely dig the opt in approach! For bands that I am nuts about I would go the extra mile and make sure I got all the "extras". For bands that I like, but am not a "collector" of, I would opt out. This would be more fair than basically having everyone get the cd. As someone else stated, if you're going to multiple concerts it's kind of like padding the charts confused

Though I love seeing the Man on top razz of the charts that is! wink
...:...Must I become naked?
No image at all?
Shall I remain upright?
Or get down and crawl?...:...
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Reply #18 posted 04/30/04 2:26pm

MrSoundMan

I think it's a great move.
Buying one ticket will give tierh the album as a bonus for those who wanna see the show, or a live show as a bonus for those who want the album.


Also, for those who are against it, I wonder what they think of all those free CDs that you get whn you buy other stuff. Or CDs that are distributed as prices in radio shows and other places.
I think they're basically mad because they didn't think of it first.
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Reply #19 posted 04/30/04 2:29pm

estelle1981

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Universaluv said:

For the first time trying something on this scale it makes practical sense to take the easy road and give every one a cd and factor the price into all the tickets , which by the way are pretty reasonably priced to begin with.


I agree. These tickets ranged from $45-$75. Most artists who have been in the business for as long as or longer than Prince want to charge you $100 dollars for nose bleed seats, and then don't give you shit for the money. It's nice that at least one artist is giving something away at a concert. Most artist make a killing off of merchandise sales, and those are separate from concert sales. Some artists would probably rather die than give shit away for free or included in their ticket prices. For Prince to even put forth this idea shows that he appreciates his fans a little more than some artists. This is like the whole 'free music download' thing. Some artists liked the idea of getting their music out to their fans, but some hated it and tried to sue their fans. How can anyone continue to be a dedicated fan to an artist that is soo greedy that they want to sue you for some music that they probably didn't even write and don't even own, is beyond my understanding. Most people who download probably go out and buy the album anyways. Could the artist really be losing that much money from the few who don't? Thanks Prince for putting on a good show and giving something away to your fans for $75 bucks or less. The gesture is appreciated by me. biggrin
[This message was edited Fri Apr 30 14:34:03 2004 by estelle1981]
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Reply #20 posted 04/30/04 2:54pm

BartVanHemelen

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moonshine said:

Prince all over the charts and creating controversy for the record business too,its just like 1984 again biggrin




Prince fans and their misguided idea of "controversial".
© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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Reply #21 posted 04/30/04 2:54pm

Supernova

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While Prince is applauded for using that unique channel, label sales and distribution executives appear split on whether the sales should be included in Nielsen SoundScan totals.

"I am violently against this," one senior distribution executive says.

lol
I'm sure that quivering fool will get over it.


When it comes to the big picture the Billboard 200 chart is sometimes manipulated in ways not even talked about, so who gives a flying monkey's ass. Cry me an ocean, ya stiff-suited drones. Prince blazes a trail of his own once again. This is the kind of bitter rancor that goes on when said artist isn't signed to a recording contract; there are less people getting a piece of the pie - and less money to be made by those making it.

`
[This message was edited Fri Apr 30 15:09:44 2004 by Supernova]
This post not for the wimp contingent. All whiny wusses avert your eyes.
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Reply #22 posted 04/30/04 2:57pm

BartVanHemelen

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sextonseven said:

Prince doesn't care about the charts.


BS.

Why sign with Sony? Why go on lame tv shows? Why sell out to Viacom? Why suddenly do radio interviews and other promo? Why revert back to greatest hits?

Answer: he signed with major label and with major tour promotor to GET A HIT.
© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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Reply #23 posted 04/30/04 2:58pm

BartVanHemelen

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Universaluv said:

Although I agree that the opt-in approach definitely has its appeal, I'm just gonna guess that Prince is playing much larger venues than "Gomez", which would defintely add to the degree of difficulty in trying to make sure that only those who opted in got their cd's and noone was left out.


Nonsense.
© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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Reply #24 posted 04/30/04 3:02pm

BartVanHemelen

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estelle1981 said:

Most artists who have been in the business for as long as or longer than Prince want to charge you $100 dollars for nose bleed seats, and then don't give you shit for the money.


And plenty want far less money. Others offer you the opportunity to download a cheap CD-quality recording of the show afterwards (Metallica : $14 for a 2-CD set in shn plus artwork).

estelle1981 said:

Most artist make a killing off of merchandise sales, and those are separate from concert sales.


And Prince isn't selling absurdly expensive tourbooks? Hell, he was selling a $1,000 guitar a tour or two ago!

estelle1981 said:

For Prince to even put forth this idea shows that he appreciates his fans a little more than some artists.


Get a clue. It's all about hyping the album.

estelle1981 said:

This is like the whole 'free music download' thing. Some artists liked the idea of getting their music out to their fans, but some hated it and tried to sue their fans.


Prince sued fans who TALKED about his music. How ya like them apples!
© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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Reply #25 posted 04/30/04 3:02pm

Doozer

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Anxiety said:

bsbd2luvr said:

Anyway, I think it's great Prince is doing this. I really hope other artists start doing it because $75 doesn't seem like such a crazy price to pay when there's a $20 CD to go with it.


If the CD handed out at concerts were the same as what you could get at the wrecka stow, I'd agree with this statement...but considering audiences get a CD with no liner notes packaged in a fairly generic slipcover, I'd say that's a $8 - $10 CD (comparing the price to NPGMC downloads, which are generic as well, but at least you can purchase 'em in the convenience of your home).



I agree. The CD you get at the concert is not the same CD you get if you buy it at a retail outlet. (And I got my copy of the CD at a retail outlet for $9.99, which is basically what they're saying they're working in to the concert ticket price.)

AND, more importantly, the copy they're handing out at concerts is clearly labeled for promotional use only. I don't see how promo CDs can count as sales.

I'm glad Soundscan is counting the handouts as sales, don't get me wrong. But the retail CD and the handout CD are definitely two different things. Regardless, as long as they count the handouts, this album is going to be high on the charts until the tour is over. If he just plays 2 concerts a week to 20,000, that's 40,000 in CD sales according to Soundscan. This album will be platinum in no time.
[This message was edited Fri Apr 30 15:04:38 2004 by Doozer]
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Reply #26 posted 04/30/04 3:12pm

realm

BartVanHemelen said:

sextonseven said:

Prince doesn't care about the charts.


BS.

Why sign with Sony? Why go on lame tv shows? Why sell out to Viacom? Why suddenly do radio interviews and other promo? Why revert back to greatest hits?

Answer: he signed with major label and with major tour promotor to GET A HIT.


He Signed with SONY so he could say" here Mr. Bart here is your free cd for attending my show."
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Reply #27 posted 04/30/04 3:17pm

VinnyM27

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An artist having an album debut very highly on the charts without the benefit of payola.

Controversy!

I think what Prince is doing is very cool and I heard that Blondie wanted to do the same thing. Anything to change the the business is sounds like music to my ears.
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Reply #28 posted 04/30/04 3:20pm

adorable2

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Supernova said:

While Prince is applauded for using that unique channel, label sales and distribution executives appear split on whether the sales should be included in Nielsen SoundScan totals.

"I am violently against this," one senior distribution executive says.

lol
I'm sure that quivering fool will get over it.


When it comes to the big picture the Billboard 200 chart is sometimes manipulated in ways not even talked about, so who gives a flying monkey's ass. Cry me an ocean, ya stiff-suited drones. Prince blazes a trail of his own once again. This is the kind of bitter rancor that goes on when said artist isn't signed to a recording contract; there are less people getting a piece of the pie - and less money to be made by those making it.

`
[This message was edited Fri Apr 30 15:09:44 2004 by Supernova]

yeah if one whore dares to defy her pimp in public, that might be it for the pimpin business! not to refer to P as a whore, hopefully you get my drift.
I'm an org elitist... totally unapproachable.

www.myspace.com/prinsexed
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Reply #29 posted 04/30/04 3:25pm

Handclapsfinga
snapz

some industry fuck-pie (who's currently shittin kittens over this) sez:
"I am violently against this," one senior distribution executive says. "This is worse than 49 cent singles. The charts are supposed to represent what consumers are spending money on. With the Prince album, there is no choice."

omfg oh no! you mean that folks at the big bad record companies can't deal out more one-size-fits-all-pop-crappity-crap-crap-crap if other artists latch on to shit like this? stuff won't get forced down the collective throats of the worldwide listening public, cuz of the lack of representation? in short--




da horror.
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