Coldplay free download a hit

Band releases 'Violet Hill' ahead of album

LONDON -- Coldplay's free download offering proved to be no shrinking violet when it went live on the band's Web site Tuesday.

The site slowed to a halt soon after the track, "Violet Hill," which has a harder, more experimental sound than previous Coldplay releases, was made available just after midday U.K. time.

After several attempts, Billboard managed to obtain a copy of the song, the first from the upcoming album "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends." The Web site asks for the user's e-mail and postcode details, after which an automatically generated e-mail is sent to the downloader's inbox.

The e-mail contains a link to the free MP3, which pops up on the desktop within a zip file. The URL apparently expires in six hours.

EMI could not be reached for comment.

The track will get a conventional paid-for digital release May 6, ahead of the album's release June 12.

"Violet Hill" was given its world exclusive first airing on Jo Whiley's BBC Radio 1 show this lunchtime, with Coldplay's Chris Martin on hand. During his conversation with Whiley, Martin revealed that the band would also play a free concert in Barcelona, Spain, but did not disclose the venue or date of the gig.

The band will support the album with free shows at London's Brixton Academy on June 16 and Madison Square Garden in New York on June 23.