I don’t often write about pure marketing tactics but, as I am a bit passionate about music and how sharing, listening and owning music have evolved, I wanted to write about Prince’s launch because here I am, enjoying some great music on a Monday morning, and it’s all due to him.
This morning I received an email from Live Nation titled “A Note From Prince” which included a very short introduction to his new protege, Judith Hill, and a link to download her new album for a limited time (two days only.) Now, I assume Live Nation has pegged me as a Prince fan seeing as I bought tickets to his concert through them. Regardless, their targeting was spot on and my interest was piqued. I clicked the link, expecting to go through hoops of registration, social logins and the providing of much personal information. In return, I would get to stream maybe two or three songs. None of that happened. Instead, the link took me directly to a site where I could download a zip file with the entire album. No tricks, no hoops. All Prince “asked for” in return was to “please spend some time with this music and then share it with someone U love.” So here I am, sharing this great album with you.
But aside from the music, contrast Judith Hill’s approach with Taylor Swift’s launch of her album last year. To be sure, comparison is difficult because of the two extremes these two artists are at. Ms Swift is at the top of her industry and can demand anything and still be the top selling album of the year (and possibly for two years in a row as sales are still, well, swift) and Ms Hill is trying to break in. But Ms Hill is somewhat admitting that she’ll forgo album sales for some attention and hope to make up the revenue on tour. Ms Swift won’t forgo anything, she’ll sell CDs and digital downloads and then play to sold-out stadiums on tour.
It’s interesting to read that, on one hand, listeners are abandoning digital (and physical, Ms Swift is a rarity) downloads for streaming music services. It is exactly these services that Swift dislikes as she feels they are giving away music without adequately compensating the artists. Yet on the other hand, some artists are bringing back the album format and fans are happy to come along as long as “they are certain it’s not going to be two radio singles and filler.” It also turns out that selling an album makes financial sense, as fans have shown a willingness to buy the entire album and not just singles.
All in all, I’m glad Prince chose this approach to induce me to her music. It was a way to help Ms Hill stand out and it certainly caught my attention, something I’m pretty sure would not have happened had he gone about it the usual way.
It also seems that the music industry isn’t quite done evolving. Carry on!