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Amazon cuts Coldplay album prices to bring in the crowds

June 17, 2008 |  2:59 pm
Coldplay at a press conference today

If you are going up against a giant, it helps if you too are a giant. And scrappy.

That appears to be Amazon.com's strategy as its MP3 store takes on Apple's iTunes in digital music.

Today, the British alternative rock group Coldplay (pictured above), is releasing its new album, "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends." Amazon is using the occasion to wave in more customers with some huge discounts.

Amazon said it would begin selling digital versions of past Coldplay albums for bargain-basement prices. As part of a weekly promotion called Daily Deal, the Coldplay album "X&Y" is today available for $1.99. On Wednesday, "A Rush of Blood to the Head" can be yours for $1.99. Both albums are currently $7.99 on iTunes. "Parachutes" is next up on Thursday for $1.99. On Friday, the "Brothers and Sisters" EP will cost you only 99 cents.

Since it launched in September, the Amazon MP3 store has trained its sights ...

... on Apple's iTunes store, which sells more music than any other U.S. retailer. Amazon has not released information about how much music it has sold.

A recent Forrester Research report showed that 62% of the 1,273 people surveyed in April said they had bought digital music from iTunes. Only 11% said they had bought from Amazon.

That may seem small potatoes, but James McQuivey, Forrester's media analyst, reminded me that Amazon began selling music from all four major labels only in January. And at least in terms of people surveyed, Amazon was already ahead of Wal-Mart, which had sold music to 9% of those surveyed, and Rhapsody, with 8%.

Amazon is doing another promotion called "Friday Five," offering five albums for $5 each on Fridays and through the weekend. This week's offer: the Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed," Frank Sinatra's "The Essential Frank Sinatra," Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' "Raising Sand," Linkin Park's "Minutes to Midnight" and Andrea Bocelli's "Vivere - The Best of."

"You'll see more aggressive promotion throughout this year to make sure people keep coming back to get the volume up and the word of mouth going," McQuivey said.

And one more thing: Amazon is selling the new Coldplay album at $8.99, beating iTunes by a dollar.

-- Michelle Quinn

Photo: Coldplay band members at a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, today. Credit: Luis Gene / AFP/Getty Images.

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