I am a big fan of Prince. This is no secret. I went to see him 8 times when he played his 21 nights in London in 2007 and would have gone more had it been physically possible. At his best he’s a genius and at his worst… well we forgive his worst for all the times that he’s a genius. Fan that I am though, I’m not sure even I can stump up the $77 to join his new website/music experiment www.lotusflow3r.com.
For that handsome sum subscribers get a t-shirt, concert ticket offers, photographs, videos and all the other stuff you’d expect from a fully functioning Prince website, plus, crucially, you’ll be instantly able to download all three of his new albums, Lotus Flower, MPLSOUNDS and Elixir.
Most people will obviously be paying their $77 (£55) to download the albums, making them roughly $25 (£18) a piece – although they will be available in the US via Target stores for $11.99 each. No news yet as to physical availability outside the US. The thing is, what if the albums, all three of them, are rubbish. I mean, with the best will in the world, and as I said I’m a fan, it’s not beyond the realm of possiblity. $25 (£18) is a lot for an album. Especially a rubbish one. Maybe their all three works of absolute mind blowing brilliance, but you won’t know until you’ve signed-up and paid $77 (£55) for them.
I’m all for Prince’s experimentation when it comes to finding new avenues of distribution, and new business models, but they should always include the opportunity for fans to hear what they’re going to buy before being asked to fork out for them. To make them pay up blind – and the one track samples of each album on the site don’t count – is unreasonable. And it’s not like you can take it back like in the good old days and pretend that you got two copies of it for your birthday, when really you just didn’t like it.
Still, even those determined to go ahead and hand over their $77 (£55) have been struggling to do so, because to sign-up to the site you first have to prove your true devotion to the purple one and answer a riddle – he really does make it hard to be a fan sometimes. For those who are currently finding it all very confusing and just want to sign-up, click on the ticket on the cliff edge – towards to right of the screen – and in the two fields enter 1986 and Los Angeles.
Let me know if it was worth the money. Maybe I’ll change my mind.