Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

U2 Is No Coldplay, David Letterman Is No Apple

u2-youtubeBig rock album of 2008: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” Big rock album of 2009: U2’s new “No Line on the Horizon.”

Coldplay’s U.S. sales in the first week the album went on sale last June: 721,207. U2’s sales for its first week, which ended yesterday: 483,925.

What gives? I’m not a huge fan of either band, so I won’t opine about the albums’ relative merits. And the most obvious answer is that CD sales drop every year, so a big album in 2008 is be a smaller album in 2009.

But I will note that Coldplay got a huge push from Apple (AAPL) last year, which promoted the band over and over and over again on TV ads.

U2 has been working its disc very hard, too–most notably, a week-long stint on David Letterman’s CBS (CBS) show. But maybe a simple iTunes/iPod spot–like the one the band did a few years ago–could have done the trick.

Album promotion circa 2008:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald