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Black Sky Thinking

Black Sky Thinking: Coldplay give away new single
Luke Turner , April 28th, 2008 18:15

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So Coldplay join the list of artistes clamouring to give their music away for nothing. Next week, they'll put out a 7" of 'Violet Hill', the first single from the forthcoming Brian Eno-produced Viva la Vida album, on the cover of the NME. Quite remarkable, really, when in the most recent issue NME editor Conor McNicholas wrote in his 120 word editorial that the paper was turning a corner away from mediocre indie music. Then again, weird new EMI boss Guy Hands has probably unlocked the secret bunker where they store all big new records so the cleaners won't leak them onto the internet, and let McNicholas in for a listen. Perhaps his famously acute music taste has heard that Eno has pulled a belter out of the bag... and there we were thinking he spent the sessions sat there nodding his magnificent bald dome, fiddling with a few buttons, and thinking of the extension built of human skulls he's going to have bunged on his mansion.

Giving away your music for nowt is this year's climate change, megastars paying lip service to a serious issue while at the same time doing something entirely counterproductive. Coldplay, members of the Sunday Times rich list all, hardly need the few pence you'd glean from selling the 7". As artists, it's no loss. For all their faults, Coldplay don't exactly seem like the kind of band who are going to give much of a stuff if their album doesn't sell quite as many million copies as the last effort. Look at Chris Martin, bouncing Apple on his knee and gazing adoringly at his famous actress wife as she gives Madge a hand stretching the skin back over her face. You think he's really bothered about how his music gets out there?

From the NME perspective, the tie-in and the choice of the vinyl seems to be an odd move. Your average Coldplay fan will pick up a copy on CD along with their wholemeal linguini (no loss of sales for the band, then), while NME readers in classrooms across the land are going to have to hide the seven inch inside a copy of Razzle to avoid the scorn of their peers. It smacks of desperation to use the Coldplay name to add a few thousand sales to one issue, rather than regrouping to redefine the paper's identity in the face of plummeting sales.

This weary process ignores a far bigger issue. Instead of doing something sensible like, say, abolishing the worthless and devalued CD format which the music industry used to cut off its own head, and concentrating on vinyl and high-end downloads, they stick to these nonsensical, desperate publicity-hunting stunts that do nothing to ignore the central fact that while it's all well and good for these massive acts with established fanbases to go around throwing their music to the wind, the true talent (that the likes of Eno ought to be supporting) remains unfunded.