Coldplay have treated us to many freebies in the past. They are no strangers to free downloads or even free concerts! There's also companies, such as Google, who just a few days ago had given away the band's latest album, Ghost Stories away for free.
In Google's case, their promotion in celebrating the 3rd anniversary of the Google Play store involved a free giveaway of Coldplay's sixth album, Ghost Stories (On Thursday 5th March to be exact). The album is usually priced at £4.99 on the UK store. It's unknown as to have much impact this move has made but it's surely a positive one either way.
Looking back, the largest giveaway, which made a considerable impact was the Violet Hill free download. The first taster from Coldplay's fourth album in 2008, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends caused a major talking point. It hadn't been the first song or album to do so, as in the previous year, Radiohead had released their LP, 'In Rainbows' to fans on a 'pay what you want basis'. The two coupled together raised questions about the direction of the music industry at that time and how much difference it would make to paid music. It was fair to say, if music is good, people will pay for it and Violet Hill itself had reached #8 on the UK single charts, it's peak position, despite being completely free to download for the whole week! It's sales were an estimate of around 9,000 during that week. Impressive but still drowned out by the huge number of free downloads (630,000 to be exact). The move was a success and had payed off for Coldplay.
During the Viva era, the band had also set up free shows in cities such as London and Barcelona. Fans could only win tickets by entering a competition on Coldplay.com. The London show, at Brixton academy was broadcasted live on BBC Radio 1. Then, we were given a new song, titled Death Will Never Conquer, in celebration of the new Viva tour!
The ultimate fan pleaser, which signaled the near-end of Coldplay's generous streak during the Viva era, was the free live album, LeftRightLeftRightLeft. It was something the band really wanted to do but there were difficulties due to the faltering economy in 2009 and issues with the recording contract, which didn't include live albums for free! This stumbling block was eventually passed and fans were given physical copies of the live album as a gift at live concerts, while fans also flooded to Coldplay.com on a busy Monday morning to download the live recording.
Coldplay's performance at the iTunes festival in 2011, during their Mylo Xyloto era had been available as a free CD to Coldplay fans in the UK, via the Sunday Times Newspaper. This was very minor though in comparison to what happened with Jason Regler's new invention at that time, the Xyloband! Their inventor, close to bankruptcy at the time, had attracted Coldplay, who were looking to take the concert experience to the next level. The rest was history and we saw the Xylobands debut in late 2011, much to the pure delight and amazement of fans in Europe.
The influence of Xylobands took tracks such as Charlie Brown to new heights and were kept by hundreds of thousands of fans as a precious souvenir. It came with a hefty price though, as it was easily Coldplay's most expensive giveaway, at over $7 million during the whole tour! This meant Coldplay had technically played many of their Mylo Xylotour shows for free.
Just a few hundred fans around Los Angeles were the lucky ones at the start of the Ghost Stories era, as they were given a chance to be part of a new Coldplay film, within a $4 million 360 degree stage at the Sony Studios. The unbelievable few nights for those Coldplayers turned out to be what we now know as Ghost Stories Live 2014.