In my never-ending obsession with how the music business is attempting to re-invent itself, I came across this article about Jin-Young Park, who has been playing this game for several years now over in Korea. Right off the bat, the guy grabbed my attention with this truth:
“In meetings with music labels here (in the U.S.), they talk to me about releasing albums,” says Park. “They can’t accept that there’s no such thing anymore. Where I come from, CDs are nothing—they’re just souvenirs. I tell them, ‘Wake up!'”
Sound familiar? An interesting statistic: in 2000, South Korea already had 14% of music sales coming from downloads, and last year, that number rose to 84%. Granted, South Korea has 80% of households with broadband, and the population became accustomed to downloads and texts much sooner than Americans, but this may be the direction of where the business is going.
Speaking of reworking the model, Prince is releasing three CDs on his own next year: two of his own, and one of a new artist. From the Billboard article:
A “major retailer” is in talks with the artist to release the music physically, while a new Prince Web site will sell it in digital form.
The two new Prince albums are the tentatively titled “MPLSOUND” and “Lotus Flower.” He was also heavily involved in an album titled “Elixir” from his protege, Bria Valente. “We got sick of waiting for Sade to make a new album,” he said of that project.
Prince has been on the cutting edge of this movement, and industry folk will be watching these releases with much interest. This is the same guy who was selling his music online five years ago, including CD sales with tour tickets four years ago, and giving away “Planet Earth” with the Mail On Sunday two years ago. His current model works: we’ve seen the Eagles and AC/DC limit their distribution to their own website and one major retailer, and the results have been in the millions of units. The big question, however, is how much demand there really is for new music by Prince in the first place. I’m guessing not nearly as much as for the Eagles and AC/DC.