Wired.com on Prince CD giveaway

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Music, Society, Technology
July 10th, 2007 • 9:25 am

In several respects, the latest “commentary” column by Eliot Van Buskirk over at Wired.com, titled “Prince Points the Way to a Brighter Future for Music,” is shockingly bad.

For one thing, the article, written on July 9th, states that the Mail on Sunday giveaway in the U.K. has already taken place, when it actually hasn’t and is scheduled for this coming Sunday (July 15th). A simple visit to the Mail on Sunday web page would have clarified this. Mr. Eliot Van Buskirk is obviously based in the U.S., but that’s no excuse. There’s something called fact-checking.

In the same vein, in his column the writer asserts that “the giveaway almost certainly contributed to Prince selling out 15 of his 21 shows at London’s O2 Arena within the first hour of ticket sales.” Given that the shows actually sold out weeks before the giveaway was even announced (and there were no rumours of it before it was announced), we are left with the clear impression that Mr. Eliot Van Buskirk has just been given an assignment to write something about Prince and has not been following the story at all.

Yet, for all the fact-checking blunders, this article actually makes an interesting point, which is that music distribution might soon no longer be about “space,” but about “time.” In other words, the only way to make money with a music release will be through “exclusives” such as this Mail on Sunday giveaway, ahead of the actual release date for the album.

In reality, things are obviously not that simple, and never will be. But there is no doubt that there has been a shift in emphasis from space to time, and that the digital revolution has played a big role in this shift. On the other hand, there is obviously a need to couple this analysis with the concept of the “long tail.”

What is certain, however, is that Prince continues to be, in his own unique way, way ahead of the curve.

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