The Mail on Sunday’s decision to give away an entire album has opened up a new front in the covermount war, according to the editor of Music Week.
Martin Talbot said the MoS giveaway of Mike Oldfield’s classic album Tubular Bells – which prompted Oldfield to write a letter of complaint to the music industry weekly – had set a new precedent in newspaper giveaways.
‘We hadn’t previously had an example of an entire studio album being given away, and that’s why the Tubular Bells giveaway was so controversial,’Talbot said.
Although covermounting CDs from individual artists is not new, previously newspaper groups created compilation albums from a number of artists or different elements of a single artist’s back-catalogue.
The Tubular Bells give-away follows on from the recent trend of offering readers entire films on DVD, almost identical to those on sale in shops at full price.
Oldfield had complained in a letter to Music Week that his record company, EMI, had agreed to covermount the album without his permission.
In response, the MoS has this week taken out a double-page advert in Music Week defending the move, arguing that covermounting helps promote music and claiming that sales of Tubular Bells rose by 30 per cent following the giveaway.
MoS managing director Stephen Miron said: ‘The whole argumentis that we are devaluing music, butwe are creating a stimulus.”
Miron confirmed that the MoS was keen to continue covermounting entire albums, where possible. ‘I don’t think we are the enemy in this,’he said.
‘I think people would like us to be the enemy. The issues that come about are from retailers putting pressureon the record companies not to do these things. In reality, the music companies would – given a free way – do much more of this.”
Talbot said it was unlikely EMI or any of the other major record labels would agree to covermount an entire album again unless it was a one-off.
But he added: ‘The more prevalent these CDs become, the more these newspapers have to push them. The Tubular Bells CD is either the pinnacle or the nadir of this. From a national newspaper’s point of view, the Mail on Sunday has pulled off an amazing coup.
‘They have given away one of the all-time classic British albums, and because of that, the scrabbling together of compilation tracks might seem a bit pale in comparison. The worry is that there will be significant numbers of these albums to follow – and that’s of significant concern to the music industry.”