The insanity around the Prince free album debate is unbelievable. The Mail On Sunday giveaway yesterday of Prince’s Planet Earth caused uproar amongst the music retail stores who claimed it devalued music on every level. I myself think this is one of the two great publicity stunts so far this year. Prince’s album sales have gone up and down throughout his career. His last album to reach number one in the U.S. was 2131 last year, but this was his first U.S. number one for seventeen years.
Prince was paid by The Mail On Sunday an amount rumoured to be around half a million, and everyone who could get hold of a copy of the Mail on Sunday yesterday got to hear Prince’s album for free, which will without doubt, introduce a lot of new listeners to the artist. Those who couldn’t get a copy yesterday, will probably buy one when it comes on sale. The debate around whether he should have given it away free or not has created such a furore, that this has generated even more press for Prince and his album. It can only be thought of as a cunning PR stunt, along the lines of the second Stunt I want to mention which was The Simpson’s Springfield Competition.
Fox invited 32 Springfields in the U.S. to participate in a competition to host the Simpson Movie Premier and to ultimately be named as “Home of the Simpsons”. To enter the town had to submit a 3-5 minute video demonstrating enthusiasm for the Simpsons. The competition caused excitement around the world, not only the U.S. and gained global coverage. The winning town was Springfield Vermont who will host the premiere in their town’s movie theatre which holds only 300 people! It really warms my heart to see great publicity stunts like these.