Coldplay vs. Judas Priest -or- The Benefits of Widgets

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by: Nancy Baym

Last week, Coldplay made their new single “Violet Hill” available free for one week (one week? lame) for download from their official website. tracked its listens and what a lot of them there were:

10,000 times in the 5 hours since the track was released. That’s 1 play every 2 seconds. Apparently the last time a track was listened to this intensively on Last.fFM was ‘15 Step’ from Radiohead’s free In Rainbows album, which clocked up close to 22,000 listens in 12 hours.

Not to be outdone, the somewhat-less-popular these days Judas Priest took another route to the release of their new single, “Nostradamus”, via ReverbNation widget (for more about what I think is the coolest widget out there for bands, read this).

According to ReverbNation COO Jed Carlson, they initially placed the widget that streams their song on 4 sites, but since the widget can be grabbed by fans and embedded wherever they want, it spread rapidly to more than 500 websites.

Everytime a song is streamed through a ReverbNation widget, they get tracking information back. The result? According to ReverbNation:

The track was streamed once every two seconds during the first 24-hour period. Fans who listened or received the download were directed to the Judas Priest website where they could pre-order the album, scheduled for release on June 17th.

Color me naive, but when a Judas Priest single can get as much play as a Coldplay single without the media going nuts over a Hot Big Mega Band Being Creative And Wow with the internet buzz, I’m impressed. What I love, to no one’s surprise, is that most of the places where people were able to stream the song were places it had been placed BY FANS WHO WANTED TO SPREAD IT. Henry Jenkins talks about “spreadable media” (a topic I’ll be hearing more about at the Convergence Culture Consortium retreat over the next few days). This is a great example of how it works.

Now I want to see Rob Halford face off against Chris Martin. Oh, Rob’s not in the band anymore? Nevermind then.

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