The Artist Formerly Known as Prince is once again trying to find alternative approaches to running a record label. This time he’s selling his new album directly to retailers.

In the next week, he’s planning to invite retailers from around the nation to his Paisley Park Studios in suburban Minneapolis to preview his new album, “New Power Soul,” and then place their orders. This strategy would eliminate the distributor, a role usually performed by a major label or a large independent company.

The Artist used this approach on a limited basis for his last project, “Crystal Ball.” In February, he sold a four-CD version of “Ball” directly to three chains--Best Buy, Musicland/Sam Goody and Blockbuster.

It’s not clear whether “New Power Soul” is indeed a new album by the Artist or merely a disc by his band, New Power Generation, featuring the former Prince on lead vocals on several but not all tracks. On his Web site earlier this year, the Artist indicated that he would not release an album in ’98 but his band would.


When he convenes retailers at Paisley to hear “New Power Soul,” he is also expected to preview new albums by Chaka Khan and Larry Graham that he has produced new music? for his NPG Records.