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Insiders estimate that [sales] total as almost 150k more than it would’ve done without the help of the iTunes ad, most of them in downloads.

COLDPLAY’S THE THING

Perfect Set-Up, Highlighted by Holmes’ Hand-Recruited Team, iTunes Ad, Help Fuel Chart-Topping Debut

EMI’s been living Viva La Vida for several months now, hoping to parlay Coldplay’s new album into a chart-topping debut.

With the parent company girding for Terra Firma ruler Guy Hands’ edict to cut between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs by June, Coldplay manager Dave Holmes took matters into his own (pardon the pun) hands.

With Guy’s blessings (and financial backing), Holmes assembled his own team to coordinate the album’s June 17 release, reaching out to a pair of industry execs in Paul Kremen and longtime Capitol Records sales chief Joe McFadden to coordinate marketing and retail, respectively.

After releasing the first single, “Violet Hill,” as a free download, attracting more than 2 million responses within the first week, Coldplay pulled their ace in the hole—a $25 million TV Apple iTunes campaign featuring the title track.

As soon as the spot began airing, radio and Greg Thompson’s Capitol Music Group team sprang into action. The track is the greatest gainer at three separate formats, including Triple A (where it’s on track for #1), Hot AC (where it’s #10 this week) and Modern (where it’s #12, but Top 5 in audience), and exploding now at Top 40.

“The TV spot immediately forced radio’s hand,” says an insider. “It was completely the driving force.”

“Viva La Vida” went to #1 on the singles chart, the first U.K.-based song to do so since The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” in 1997 and the first British rock band to do so since EMF’s “Unbelievable” in 1991.

The TV spot also fueled the band’s iTunes sales, as Coldplay’s 280k+ digital album downloads doubled the previous record set by Jack Johnson earlier this year.

While the band’s U.S. tour has been postponed until July 14, when they will open at L.A.'s Forum, Coldplay has performed three free warm-up concerts, one each in Barcelona and Brixton in London and the other this past Monday (6/23) at Madison Square Garden for fans chosen from an online lottery.

They also performed “Viva la Vida” on MTV’s recent Movie Awards.

All that helped the new Coldplay album debut at #1 this week with 729k in total sales, an impressive total given the current retail doldrums. Insiders estimate that total as almost 150k more than it would’ve done without the help of the iTunes ad, most of them in downloads.

The album has topped the U.K. chart for the second consecutive week, and is #1 in Japan, Australia, Canada, France and Germany.

Upcoming appearances include a performance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tomorrow night (6/25), The Today Show Friday (6/27) and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (7/17).

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