Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coldplay sets a Digital Record without Streaming

-This post has been updated-

A few weeks ago Coldplay announced that it was not going to post its new album Mylo Xyloto on streaming sites like Spotify. To date they are one of the larger acts to publicly not allow their music to be streamed. At the time Coldplay's decision reportedly embarrassed their record label, EMI, who has a licensing deal with Spotify. But EMI may be singing a different tune now after Coldplay's new album Mylo Xyloto hit a "one week digital sales record" in the UK. According to a report by Digital Music News of the 208,343 units sold in the UK over 40%, or 83,000 were digital. U.S. sales figures from Soundscan are pending. In terms of percentage, digital album sales are still growing rapidly and Coldplay seems to be benefiting from this.

Over the course of the last several months there has been a lot of buzz about streaming, specifically Spotify, but since their U.S. deput four large independent labels have pulled their music from the site. These include Century Media, Prosthetic Records and Projekt. All of these labels have stated that their reason for pulling their music from Spotify was due to extremely low payments. Typically 1/3 of a penny or less per song. Or as the UK based folk band Uniform Motion blogged, they make only $0.0041 per play, saying, "If you listen to [our] album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we'll get $40.50!"

If that weren't enough a poll of readers found that 75% of those who participated in the poll did not believe that Spotify was a good choice for musicians.

The sales of Mylo Xyloto proves that, despite all of the buzz regarding Spotify from the media tech reporters, bands don't need streaming to have a best selling album. Bands, at least well-known acts, can do just fine without streaming services and this news might encourage other bands at Coldplay's level to begin rethinking streaming entirely. While some might argue that smaller bands need streaming sites to be discovered, so far no artists can claim that any streaming site has helped their careers in any way. And as the Hypebot poll show, most Indie artist are skeptical. This point of view seems to be gaining traction. As one publisher told Digital Music News, "getting played is nice, getting paid is better."

U.S. sales figures for the first week of Colplay's new album Mylo Xyloto have been released. The album, which went on sale on Oct 24, has sold more than 500,000 copies on the iTunes store worldwide breaking a sales record for the iTunes.

As mentioned above, Coldplay's decision to not put Mylo Xyloto on streaming sites seems to be part of a strategy to encourage listeners to buy downloads of the album or on CD. Given the strong showing this decision seems to be working.

Mylo Xyloto is the third album by the band that has topped the Billboard 200 chart. However, following the over all trend of the last decade the sales show a marked decline from previous releases. Here is how first week sales for Coldplay's last three albums breaks out:1

Mylo Xyloto 447,000
Viva La Vida 721,00
X&Y 737,00
Numbers from Nielsen SoundScan reflect U.S. sales only. The iTunes sales amount above are worldwide.



  1. we pulled our stuff off spotify about a month ago - streaming may be good for catalogue rights holders but that about it at the current rate of pay

  2. Fans want new music from their favorite artists, but then are unwilling to pay for it on streaming sites. Kudos to Coldplay for not succumbing to the pressure from their label to list their latest CD on Spotify.