Lil' Wayne and Coldplay

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat on KCRW.

Last week, New Orleans rapper Lil' Wayne, blew away the competition for the biggest selling album. His new CD, Tha Carter III, debuted at #1, selling over a million copies. These kinds of sales figures are rare, especially in the backdrop of rising fuel prices. People do not jump into their cars on whims nearly as much. The last time an artist sold more than a million copies in a week was when 50 Cent released The Massacre in 2005.

So how did Lil Wayne generate so many sales in just one week? People unfamiliar with the artist may not know his secret. The guy is a marketing machine. He's made a name for himself being everywhere at the same time – on the radio, on mix-tapes, on television, in the press and all over the Internet. It's his unique voice that really grabs so much attention and he knows how to use it. His voice and his drive have become the real marketing instruments for his success.

Lil' Wayne has recorded singles with artists like Chris Brown, Akon, TI, Birdman, Jay Z, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes and T-Pain.

Many of the songs originally slated for Tha Carter III release were leaked on mix-tapes last year. As a result, Lil' Wayne released a five-song digital EP called The Leak in December. All and all, a nice set-up move for Tha Carter III album.

Of course, it doesn't hurt when your first single is #1 on three charts simultaneously. And Lil' Wayne took the overwhelming success in stride by sending a YouTube video out to his fans, thanking them for making it happen.

Right behind him on the charts is Coldplay. This week Coldplay's new album, titled, Viva La Viva will earn the #1 slot, with 721,000 sales. It's the first time since 2005 that two records have sold more than 700,000 copies in two weeks. So for retailers, June has been an outstanding month. Hit records bring traffic into stores and with traffic comes lots of impulse purchases.

Last week, total album sales were over 9 million units, up almost 23% from the week before.

In other news, Nine Inch Nails is offering a free download of music from the opening bands' on their summer tour, including music from Deerhunter, Crystal Castles, Does It Offend You Yeah and A Place to Bury Strangers. You can download the music at

And yesterday, Radiohead released ten live-performance videos, recorded at The Hospital studio in Covent Gardens. You can find them all on iTunes today.

Both Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have taken the business into their own hands, handling the marketing of their records themselves.

On a sad note. Yesterday, EMI Chairman Guy Hands made many of the staff cuts he had promised he would. Rumor has it about a quarter of the EMI workforce will be let go worldwide.

The record business is not and never will be the thriving business it once was. Too much has changed in the marketplace. The best we can hope for is little victories like June.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.