Prince’s decision to give his new album 20ten away as a newspaper covermount and NOT release it through digital stores has been controversial.Many experts said that his intention to keep his music off the internet was ridiculous, as people would just rip the tracks and slap them on BitTorrent. In other words, by not selling the album through legal digital stores, Prince would spark more piracy.Is that true though? I asked someone who should know: BigChampagne CEO Eric Garland, whose company tracks P2P activity. And he says that 20ten has been “a real underachiever on P2P – album downloads in the thousands and counting”.Garland says the album is additionally being shared via online file-hosting services, but even there he sees “very little activity”. File-sharers haven’t gone wild for the album, in other words.What does this mean? To put it bluntly, perhaps people simply aren’t that fussed about a new Prince album. And those that are, if they live in a country where there was a covermount deal, may have just gone out and bought the newspaper.Even so, it’s an interesting point: much of the coverage of 20ten so far has focused on the assumption that distributing an album purely offline will inevitably lead to large-scale online piracy. But clearly the caveat is that if people aren’t that interested in the album anyway, they won’t seek it out on P2P services just to spite the artist.

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