The story has been consistent all year: Album sales are down 15 percent, single sales are down 12 percent, and streaming services are taking over the record business. But Coldplay is fighting back! Will the band’s anti-Spotify strategy work? We’ll see.
THEY’RE DOING A DECENT JOB OF KEEPING IT OFF YOUTUBE, TOO: Coldplay’s Ghost Stories sold a respectable 383,000 copies, easily enough to reach Number One — it’s the best-selling debut week of 2014, beating Eric Church’s The Outsiders, which sold 288,000. How did Coldplay pull it off? The band remains huge, of course, but this is an era of declining old-school rockers, when even once-reliable hitmakers such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park have trouble sticking to the charts. One possible reason: When I tried to play Ghost Stories on Spotify, all I found were three tracks and “the artist or their representatives have decided not to release this album on Spotify. We are working on it and hope they will change their mind soon.” Ghost Stories sold 64 percent of its sales digitally, a total of 245,000, suggesting the band’s strategy of making frustrated Spotify streamers switch to iTunes to pay for downloads may be paying off. (Church’s Outsiders still isn’t streaming)
MIGHT WE SUGGEST SEVERAL DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF “BILLIE JEAN”?: In perhaps the year’s least unexpected second-week chart drop, Michael Jackson’s Xscape lost 57 percent of its sales and fell from Number Two to Number Three, moving just 67,000 copies. So the hype of the MJ duet with Justin Timberlake on “Love Never Felt So Good” and the not-really-a-hologram “Slave to the Rhythm” performance on last week’s Billboard Music Awards appears to have died down. “Love Never Felt So Good” hit Number Eight on iTunes’ Top Songs last week but has dropped off the list, although there may still be hope — the video is up to nearly 16 million YouTube views, prompting BigChampagne’s latest Ultimate Chart to rank it at Number Five. Will be interesting to see which new/old Xscape singles Jackson’s old label, Epic Records, pushes next.
HAPPY, UH, MOTHER’S DAY?: I’m rooting for Eminem’s “Headlights,” and not just because the video contains an image of a kid wearing a Detroit Tigers cap in bed. (Go Tigers!) The poignant sympathizing-with-mom story-song video, directed by Spike Lee and starring fun.’s Nate Ruess on Sentimental Vocals, has racked up 17 million views in two weeks and almost 15 million Spotify streams — contributing to a 75-slot jump on the Ultimate Chart. If this single peters out, Eminem may have to release one or two more to coincide with his stadium tour on six dates (with Rihanna) beginning in August.