Coldplay announced today that they would be offering their first single from their new album “Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends”, Violet Hill, as a free download from their site beginning tomorrow. Fans only have a week to grab the single and the album goes on sale in the UK on June 12.
Both Radiohead & Nine Inch Nails have used similar tactics to generate more media attention for their new albums.
Nine Inch Nails offered fans several options to get ahold of “Ghosts I-IV”. Your choices were:
- Free downloads of the first nine tracks from the Ghosts I-IV collection as DRM-free MP3s, plus the 40-page PDF.
- $5 download: All 36 tracks in a variety of digital formats, plus a 40-page PDF.
- $10 two-disc set: A double-disc set, packaged in a Digipak with a 16-page booklet, to be shipped on April 8. Includes immediate download of album.
- $75 deluxe edition: Ghosts I-IV in a “hardcover fabric slipcase containing two audio CDs, one data DVD with all tracks in multi-track format, and a Blu-Ray disc of Ghosts I-IV. Ships May 1. Includes immediate download of album.
- $300 “ultra-deluxe limited edition package”: Deluxe edition plus a four-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, which is packaged in a fabric slipcase. Two limited-edition Giclee prints are included; package is numbered and signed by Trent Reznor. Limited to a run of 2500, and one piece per customer. Ships May 1 and includes immediate download.
Radiohead used a “pay what you want” tactic for “In Rainbows“, but they offered an all or nothing strategy. When their EMI distribution deal expired, Radiohead went directly to their fans.
It’s hard to determine whether this tactic was a success or not. Two out of every five people didn’t pay anything for the download at all. Studies have shown that, in the US, 60% of the downloaders chose not pay for the files at all. [source]
“This shows pretty conclusively that the majority of music consumers feel that digital recorded music should be free and is not worth paying for. That’s a large group that can’t be ignored and its time to come up with new business models to serve the freeloader market.” said Fred Wilson, managing partner of Union Square Ventures. [source]
With more and more bands going this direction, it’s clear that traditional marketing is no longer the be all and end all. People are demanding options for their purchases, and the music industry is starting to step up.
There’s even been rumours about Metallica, one of the original complainants in the lawsuit against Napster, taking a page from Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails and launching an online marketing campaign.