Prince has angered British music retailers by giving away his new album with a tabloid newspaper today.

The Planet Earth album has been handed out with the Mail on Sunday, a move which has been widely criticised by an industry already suffering from rapidly declining CD sales.

Music giveaways are common among British newspapers, but the majority tend to be compilations of older music rather than new releases.

The Mail on Sunday, 2.9 million copies of which are expected to be on sale, points out that the giveaway is a "world first".

"Never before has an artist challenged The Music industry in such a bold and dramatic fashion," the paper claimed.

"The album's official release is free inside today's Mail on Sunday and the CD will not be available in the rest of the world until July 24th."

The Mail on Sunday added that demand had been "massive" and described its move as a "brilliant coup".

However, Paul Quirk, co-chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, told a music conference in London earlier this week that Prince's decision "beggars belief".

"It is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," he claimed.

Mr Quirk added that the move risks destroying any perception of value around recorded music.

Prince's label, Sony BMG UK, has cancelled its own sales launch, saying that in light of the newspaper deal it would be "ridiculous" to go ahead, although it insisted that it is still "delighted" to be working with Prince.

15/07/2007 10:18:57