The newspaper business in the U.S. is constantly being reported on as near death. Sometimes the predictions seem almost as dire as those directed towards the music industry. ;)
One of the solutions UK newspapers have used as a promotional tool is covermount CDs, especially to drive Sunday circulation.
Well, Prince has put a new twist on this promotional strategy. He sold the Daily Mail his entire new album, which was given away last Sunday to massive sales (free - registration required). Prince owns his masters. He can do what he likes with his music to get himself paid and his music into people's hands. He is one of the elite artists who can have the luxury of employing such a tactic.
But, here in the U.S. - where circulation is lagging and newspaper jobs are drying up - there hasn't even been an attempt to do anything with music CDs - no single-artist efforts, no various artists compilations - by any of the major dailies in U.S. cities. I know, because when I worked for Universal I was trying to work with one of these papers on a series of CDs for their Sunday paper to be released over the course of a particular month. They didn't like the economics of it, but they had also not attempted to secure any advertisers to come on as co-funding partners.
What do these papers have to lose? They should tie in such an effort with an advertiser(s) and make a big splash of the promotion. Newspapers just need to be clear on who their audience is - adults. The CDs should be targeted to them, not to them in their role as parent, but music they can discover and enjoy. Adults have too little free time to go discover and buy new music, even less so as they get more and more entrenched in professional careers. Being presented with new music to listen to is just one more incentive for those adults to pick up the Sunday paper on the newsstand, or to subscribe to it.