On May 5, I had the opportunity to see Coldplay perform before a crowd of less than 3000 people at Beacon Theatre. On a Monday night in New York City, where there are a million different things to do, tickets sold out right after they were released. For a band that sells out stadiums worldwide, the much smaller venue provided an intimate performance for the group’s fans, not only at the theater, but also listeners on Sirius XM radio. Coldplay performed to pre-release their new album, Ghost Stories, which comes out on May 19.
The concert highlighted the wide array of audience Coldplay reaches. The seats were filled with teenagers in blue jeans and a t-shirt to successful, balding businessmen in tailored suits. Yet, everyone was there for the same reason: his or her love of Coldplay. Chris Martin, Coldplay’s front man, embraces Coldplay’s loyal, differing fan base by stating “we have the best fans in the world.” He even jokes about how his group, and thus audience, is growing older by remarking, “if only we had the courage to dress in something other than black, we might be as successful as One Direction.”
As with magazines, Coldplay understands forming a connection with its audience. In order for a magazine or a musical group to thrive, they must acquire and maintain fans through their content. As a magazine attracts a certain type of reader, a band similarly attracts a certain type of listener. A band must understand its audience and produce content for its audience. Coldplay, an alternative band, does not produce content for rap fans, as a sports magazine does not have wedding design content.
During the concert, Coldplay highlighted connection through content in their set list. The set list consisted of a total of sixteen songs, seven of which are on their unreleased album, while the other nine were Coldplay classics that the audience knew by heart. By having this even split between old and new songs, Coldplay’s concert gave its audience what it wanted: a chance to sing along with their old songs and an opportunity to hear songs from their unreleased album.
For the second encore, Coldplay even performed a song that no one had heard before. Prior to performing the song, the radio broadcast was turned off and Chris asked that no one record the song because he wanted to keep it a secret for the album. He gazed around the theater and pointed out the attire of about eight members of the crowd to emphasize the special connection between the band and its fans. In this instance, the connection was held together because each fan was able to hear a song unavailable to anyone else, and Coldplay knew this song would remain unavailable because they trusted their connection with each audience member to not film the song.
In order for Coldplay, a magazine, or a business to succeed, a strong connection is needed between the producer and consumer. Coldplay, a band that has remained popular for nearly fifteen years, understands this. How long Coldplay will keep a strong connection with its audience remains unknown. I, for one, hope they are able to maintain their magic for many years to come.
– Andrew Lamb