Coldplay sold 125,000 copies of its new album on the first day of release in Britain, a solid tally industry experts say should be music to the band’s ears and those of its ailing record label EMI.
“Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends” now looks “certain” to top Sunday’s album chart, according to The Official Charts Company which tracks record sales, even though it was released on Thursday rather than at the start of the week.
“Coldplay are an international act … and these sales figures in the UK are the first indication of how the album will be received, and EMI will be very pleased,” said The Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot.
“X&Y,” Coldplay’s last album and most successful to date, sold 465,000 copies in its first week in Britain.
EMI, and its boss Guy Hands, will now turn their attention to the world’s biggest music market in the United States, a more important barometer of the album’s success when it is released there next week.
The band has expressed relief the recording process is over for one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated records.
” feel very relieved that the album is finally released out into the big wide world,” the band said on its Web site. “It’s out of our hands now. It doesn’t belong to us any more.”
Lead singer Chris Martin, married to Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has appeared uncomfortable discussing the record in a series of radio interviews this week.
Late on Thursday, he walked out of an interview on BBC’s Radio 4, saying he was “not really enjoying this” and accusing his interviewer of “twisting” his words. He also rejected the description of the new album as “morbid.”
EMI, the smallest of the four major record labels which was taken private last year, lost two of its biggest acts in 2007 — Paul McCartney and Radiohead — and representatives for Coldplay and Robbie Williams also suggested they may look elsewhere.
Pop stars are considering alternatives to traditional record deals as Internet piracy and declining CD sales mean touring and merchandise are often more lucrative than the music itself.
McCartney launched a venture with coffee chain Starbucks while Radiohead offered their latest album “In Rainbows” over the Internet on a “pay-what-you-want” basis.
Other labels have also been affected, including Warner Bros. which was dropped by Madonna for a recording, touring and merchandising partnership with concert promoter Live Nation.
Coldplay followed the recent trend of digital initiatives by giving away “Violet Hill,” the first single from their new album, for free over the Internet. Media reports said the offer was taken up by two million people.
Like other record labels, EMI is seeking to develop new models of distributing music digitally to keep pace with rapid changes that are eroding physical music sales.
The company, which announced up to 2,000 job cuts in January, has appointed former executives from online virtual world site Second Life and Google.