According to reports, Coldplay’s record label EMI is “a little embarrassed” about Coldplay’s decision to ban the streaming of its latest album, Mylo Xyloto, on any streaming sites — including Spotify. Disregarding the fact that Coldplay has gone downhill since A Rush of Blood to the Head and that Chris Martin is Devon’s answer to Bono, the band’s decision won’t change album sales. Here’s why:
I may be generalising here, but Spotify users most likely moved on from Coldplay years ago. The band’s target audience (hi, mum!) has either not heard of Spotify, or doesn’t have an inclination to use it. Generalising again, these fans will be buying the album on CD or maybe downloading it on iTunes if they are really tech-savvy.
But let’s ask digital music expert Stuart Dredge of Music Ally for a less offensive opinion. Music Ally’s editor has been reading a lot of negative reports about Coldplay’s decision, but believes that they’re incorrect to say the band will rue the day they ever nixed Spotify:
“A lot of online commentary has suggested that Coldplay will regret their decision to shun the streaming services, because more people will pirate their album. The latter bit is probably true, but I think Coldplay are one of the bands big enough not to suffer. They’ll still sell a load of albums (physical and digital), sell out stadiums on their tour, and make money in various other ways from film/TV sync deals, merchandising and so on.”
Aren’t we constantly being told that bands and musicians can only make money these days by embarking on hundred-date tours around the world, like Lady Gaga, or by “selling their souls” to advertisers, such as the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am? (Who’s shilled for BlackBerry, Intel and a robotics competition in recent years.)
True, this does mean Coldplay can afford to throw us peasants a few bones by sticking its latest album on streaming sites (which do send a few banknotes bands’ way, even if it’s not much), but it also means it can be more choosy with how it sell Mylo Xyloto.
While it’s unlikely Coldplay’s decision will affect the various bank accounts that depend on the album’s success, Dredge is worried about what this spells for the future:
“The danger now is that other big artists look at Adele (her new album is not on streaming services, but selling in its millions) and Coldplay (likewise) and think that they’re doing so well *because* they’re not on Spotify and other streaming services.”
The decision to shun streaming sites was first reported on Cnet, which heard from sources that Coldplay’s taking a Pink Floyd approach with its latest album, not wishing the songs to be split up individually; instead preferring the entire album to be listed to as “one cohesive work.” Maybe that would’ve worked 20, even 10 years ago, but we’re living in a post-iPod world now, where playlists are carefully crafted and albums are only listened to in its entirety if the user’s stuck a CD into a slot somewhere. However much Coldplay is holding onto its album with tight hands, there’s no taking on Apple — the album’s tracks are available for purchase individually on iTunes. [Cnet]
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