And Finally Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #84: Coldplay v Spotify

By | Published on Friday 28 October 2011


Coldplay, it seems, have decided to shun Spotify with the release of their new album ‘Mylo Xyloto’. In fact, you won’t find the band’s new long player on most of the licensed streaming music services. According to CNet, in the US the band have also chosen to not distribute their new record to MOG, Rdio or Rhapsody, while back in the UK, although We7 does list the album, its tracks are currently limited to 30 second previews.

But it’s Coldplay’s decision to shun Spotify that has grabbed most attention, partly because they are the one service that operates in both the US and UK, and partly because it fits into the ‘artists hate Spotify’ narrative that has begun appearing in the media as part of the recent backlash to the onetime darling of digital music. Quite why ‘Mylo Xyloto’ is non-streamable isn’t clear, and when asked for a comment on the matter, EMI was non-committal saying only: “We always work with our artists and management on a case by case basis to deliver the best outcome for each release”.

But some have noted Coldplay’s new record isn’t the only big new release not to be found on Spotify.
Hunt around all you like, but you’ll not find Adele’s second LP ’21’ on there either. And as fans of music industry sales stats will already know, that’s a record breaking best seller, shifting over three million copies in the UK alone (over a million more than the top selling album of 2010, Take That’s ‘Progress’).

And look at all the other records in the best selling albums of 2010 list, they’ve sold nowhere near as many units. Is that partly because Adele fans were forced to buy the record old school style when they found it wasn’t available for free streaming on Spotify et al? And has that fact (or theory, perhaps) motivated Team Coldplay to likewise shun the streamers?

Of course on the back the success of ’21’, Adele has also sold another million copies of her debut ’19’, which is sitting there on Spotify all ready to be played for free. So how do you explain that? And who’s to say it’s Adele’s Spotify-shunning that has aided her success? She also refused to play any festivals this year, perhaps wary of the negative impact of over exposure. Did that aid record sales? Maybe Coldplay have already scuppered their chances of Adele-level success by headlining Glastonbury.

Though, as previously reported, Coldplay are on track to have the fastest first week sales of the year. Perhaps Spotify is to blame for every other album’s poorer sales performance after all. Or perhaps it’s just that Adele and Coldplay are the biggest pop acts of the day, appealing to more casual music consumers who are still buying records old school style, while Spotify users – getting empty returns when searching for the two acts’ new records – are just returning to the file-sharing networks and grabbing them from there. Perhaps both Adele and Coldplay could have had both record traditional sales and record streaming royalties if they’d only taken the plunge.

Who knows? Who cares? If Coldplay reckon the old school way works, let’s sort this out the traditional way too: Chris Martin, Daniel Ek, in the car park now, fight, fight, fight.