Fans of the melancholic strums of Coldplay may be warming up to Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) this week. In promoting the British band's release of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, Amazon is offering the CD in digitally downloaded MP3 form for $8.99 this week.
Deeper deals can be had on the band's earlier titles. If you hurry, you can get a digital copy of Coldplay's X&Y today for just $1.99. A Rush of Blood to the Head will be tomorrow's $1.99 virtual CD, followed by the band's early Parachutes for just $0.99 on Friday. A whole album for the price of a single song? Wow.
Don't worry that the cutout-bin pricing will create out-of-stock situations. That's the beauty of digital delivery.
On the other hand, the allure of digital delivery isn't yet universal. A handful of music's biggest stars -- including Kid Rock, Garth Brooks, and the Beatles -- are still absent, by choice, from the iTunes Music Store. They'll come around, especially since getting a pittance through digital delivery is better than getting nothing through peer-to-peer piracy.
Amazon recently surpassed Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) in selling music tracks, and this aggressive promotion is a bold shot at runaway leader Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . Undercutting Apple's digital CDs by 80% is an inspiring gimmick, though you know that music labels and their artists won't put up with the long-term devaluation of their music. The labels can't afford to go cheap, going by Warner Music Group's (NYSE: WMG ) inability to post gains in seven of the past nine quarters.
Still, Amazon will attract plenty of thrifty Coldplay fans to its storefront this week, and that's the whole point. Getting people to know there are alternatives to Apple for digital downloads is the goal. Amazon has the selection to be competitive, too. It sells unshackled MP3 tracks with a growing library of 5.4 million songs.
But it needs to keep its goals realistic, too. Even though Amazon has a lot going in its favor, it still doesn't have the Apple brand -- or the iPod.
Or you can think of it this way: Coldplay's singer named his daughter Apple, but I doubt that he'll call the next kid Amazon.