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LONDON (Reuters) - Coldplay sold 125,000 copies of its new album on the first day of release in Britain, a solid tally industry experts say should be music to the band's ears and those of its ailing record label EMI.
"Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends" now looks "certain" to top Sunday's album chart, according to The Official Charts Company which tracks record sales, even though it was released on Thursday rather than at the start of the week.
"Coldplay are an international act ... and these sales figures in the UK are the first indication of how the album will be received, and EMI will be very pleased," said The Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot.
"X&Y," Coldplay's last album and most successful to date, sold 465,000 copies in its first week in Britain.
EMI, and its boss Guy Hands, will now turn their attention to the world's biggest music market in the United States, a more important barometer of the album's success when it is released there next week.
Late on Thursday, lead singer Chris Martin walked out of an interview on BBC's Radio 4, saying he was "not really enjoying this" and accusing his interviewer of "twisting" his words. He also rejected the description of the new album as "morbid."
But in a separate BBC interview broadcast on Friday, the husband of Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow said the group still suffered nerves despite the success of recent years.
"I think we're obviously confident in some things, but we're as nervous now as we were seven years ago because we do feel very much like we got to one level and we're starting a whole other one," Martin said.
"I feel we have everything to learn again. With people who are 14 now who might hear this album ... you are starting again but that's what keeps you hungry."
Asked if he was happy with the new album, the band's fourth, he replied: "I'd be happy with it if somebody who's spent 10 pounds ($19.40) is happy with it. Ultimately, it's entertainment and if people find it entertaining then I'm happy."
EMI, the smallest of the four major record labels which was taken private last year, lost two of its biggest acts in 2007 -- Paul McCartney and Radiohead -- and representatives for Coldplay and Robbie Williams also suggested they may look elsewhere.
Pop stars are considering alternatives to traditional record deals as Internet piracy and declining CD sales mean touring and merchandise are often more lucrative than the music itself.
McCartney launched a venture with coffee chain Starbucks while Radiohead offered their latest album "In Rainbows" over the Internet on a "pay-what-you-want" basis.
Coldplay followed the recent trend of digital initiatives by giving away "Violet Hill," the first single from their new album, for free over the Internet. Media reports said the offer was taken up by two million people.
Like other labels, EMI is seeking to develop new models of distributing music digitally to keep pace with rapid changes that are eroding physical sales.
The company, which announced up to 2,000 job cuts in January, has appointed former executives from online virtual world site Second Life and Google.
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