“We’re pleased to report that the band’s current album, Ghost Stories, is now available to hear in full on all major streaming services worldwide,” explained an email to fans from the band’s official mailing list.
The email included direct links to stream the album on Spotify, Deezer and Rdio. The four-month delay is the latest example of “windowing”, where albums are held back from streaming services in an attempt to maximise sales for a few months.
Ghost Stories was released in May, meaning its non-streaming window was slightly longer than that of the previous Coldplay album Mylo Xyloto, which went on sale in late October 2011, then appeared on streaming services in early February 2012.
Other recent prominent examples of windowed albums include Adele’s 21, released in January 2011 then available to stream from June 2012, and Taylor Swift’s Red, released in October 2012 then available to stream from May 2013.
In the case of Ghost Stories, one streaming music service got a month’s jump on the others: Apple-owned Beats Music had the album from 19 August in the US, in what now looks like a month-long exclusive deal.
Before its release, Ghost Stories had also been available to stream from Apple’s iTunes store for a week, in an effort to drum up pre-orders for the download version of the album.
Spotify has been a prominent critic of the windowing strategy, arguing that rather than cannibalising sales in the weeks after a big album has been released, streaming availability provides fans with an alternative to piracy.
In May, Spotify started showing a message to its users for albums that had been withheld from streaming: “The artist or their representatives have decided not to release this album on Spotify. We are working on it and hope they will change their mind soon.”
Ghost Stories was one of the first albums to get this treatment, although three of its tracks have been available to stream as singles. On Spotify alone, A Sky Full of Stars has been streamed more than 108m times, while Magic has more than 112m plays.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 23rd September 2014 08.13 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010