Thursday, August 28, 2014

Google Is Literally Giving Away Copies of "Prism"

Remember when Amazon, to promote its fledgling digital music service, sold Lady Gaga's sophomore album Born This Way for 99 cents during two days of its debut week, and it broke the Billboard 200? Lady Gaga (or, more accurately, her label) was laughing all the way to the bank,  since Amazon paid full price for every download sold, and Amazon began a habit of digital music-as-loss-leader that it continues to this day. Now Google, to promote its own third-place digital music operation through Google Play, is offering Katy Perry's third album, Prism, for just a click of a mouse and maybe a little piece of your soul.

Katy Perry Prism Google Play
It's all about the price tag

Prism, which came out in 2013, is obviously not the kind of draw Born This Way was, but it's almost certainly going to be a major windfall for Capitol Records, Perry's label, and a boost to Perry's sales record, even if Billboard probably won't count the free "sales" on the Billboard 200 (I've reached out to Billboard for confirmation, and will update if and when I hear back). It's uneasily clear that Perry and her team have little shame when it comes to promoting an album that, perhaps unavoidably but perhaps deservedly hasn't lived up to the enormous and record-breaking success of the smash Teenage Dream.

I originally decided not to buy the album after determining that it was more economical to cherry pick the tracks I liked. However, I am not made of stone, and despite my issues with the album and Perry's overall performance of this era, I went ahead and took Google up on its offer, and I plan to revisit the album to see if my perspective has changed at all since its release. Of course, that's a victory for Katy Perry, although whether it will prove a victory for Google remains to be seen - even as an Android user, I have yet to spend a cent through Google Play (Amazon works just fine for me). 

But clearly it's a risk one of the largest companies in the world is willing to take. And I'm willing to risk Perry and company misconstruing my "purchase" as an indication of approval of her current activity, because that alt-rock masterpiece I've long suggested she had in her is something in which my faith has already eroded enough that I don't much worry that anything I do now could make it any less likely to materialize. As far as I'm concerned, Katy Perry is permanently in the friend zone; going forward, I don't really care to fux with her. I'm at peace with just hanging out and enjoying the occasional single.

Prove me wrong, Katy!
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