Prince gave away his new album Planet Earth free with the Mail on Sunday today, to cries of protest from the music industry. How can he slap in the face the shops that have built his career they cry. Why will people buy a CD by a top artist for £10 when they can get one for free?
All completely irrelevant. The music industry has been deliberately trying to hold back new methods of distributing music in vain attempts to try and make more money. They seem to delude themselves into believing people actually want to buy CD's; they don't and the tide has been moving from CD's to digital downloads for quite a while now. Of course, the music industry hate digital downloads, not because much of it is being done illegally (as a response to the music industry trying to hold it back) but because they can charge us much more for a CD for very little reason. Instead of us buying a track we want for 79p from iTunes, they insist on filling the CD with up to three B-side songs we do not particularly want so they can put it on a portable medium and charge us five times as much for it. A CD only costs about 50p to make, but after all the marketing, packaging and salaries are paid for, suddenly the cost shoots up to around £4 for a single, or £10 for an album.
The truth is the music industry is becoming irrelevant. The Internet has democratized music. Artists that would not have been give a chance by the "experts" provide their music on sites like Myspace to people who are prepared to listen to it. No longer are we told what we can listen to by middlemen making a quick buck out of other peoples talents. We can decide what we want and pay a reasonable price for it, if there is a price at all. It is an example of good capitalism (giving the people what they want) defeating bad capitalism (big business restricting the market and bumping up prices) - and long may it continue.
What about the music shops and the middleman? Well they will just have to get used to it. They can either embrace it and continue in the business, or they can die out.
After all, you can't stop progress.