Coldplay debut at No. 1 on U.S. album chart

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British rock band Coldplay’s new album debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. pop music chart on Tuesday, largely bucking the sales slides that have affected other musicians, the group’s label said on Tuesday.

“Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Coldplay’s fourth release, sold more than 720,000 copies in the six days ended Sunday, Capitol Records said.

Its previous album, “X&Y,” also debuted at No. 1, selling 737,000 copies during its first week in June 2005. But total U.S. album sales have fallen more than 20 percent in that period, according to tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan. Stars have had to adjust their sights much lower as music piracy and competition from videogames take their toll.

The new Coldplay album also topped the charts in Britain, Japan, Australia, Canada, France and Germany, Capitol said. The single, “Viva La Vida,” is also No. 1 in both the United States and Britain.

The album’s strong performance delivers a psychological boost to Capitol’s struggling British parent company EMI Group, which was bought last year by private-equity firm Terra Firma for about $6.4 billion. Terra Firma chief Guy Hands has ruffled feathers by laying off thousands of employees and introducing fiscal disciplines that are largely foreign to the freewheeling music business.

Among the skeptics was Coldplay manager Dave Holmes, who told the Times of London in January that Coldplay was “in no hurry” to deliver its album, adding, “Why would you want to release an album with a record company in the midst of massive lay-offs? Coldplay have a lot of options.”

In the end, Coldplay’s management brought in their own team of consultants and advisers to supplement EMI’s sales and marketing efforts.

Coldplay, led by singer/songwriter Chris Martin, has promoted the album with free concerts in London, Barcelona and New York. The single was also used in an iTunes commercial. The band will begin a North American tour in Los Angeles on July 14.

Coldplay has sold more than 11 million albums in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its top seller is 2002’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” its second release, which moved 4.5 million copies. “X&Y,” which inspired the New York Times to describe Coldplay as “the most insufferable band of the decade,” sold 3.2 million copies.

After dominating the U.S. album charts in the ‘60s and ‘70s, British rock acts are a rarity at the top these days. The only other U.K. chart-toppers in the past decade have been Radiohead’s “Kid A,” and the Beatles’ “1,” both from 2000; Led Zeppelin’s 2003 live album “How The West Was Won”; and Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” this past January.

Editing by Eric Beech