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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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik