When One Direction announced the title and release date of their fourth album, FOUR (due Nov. 17 on SYCO/Columbia Records), they did so with a twist. To celebrate the occasion on Monday, the pop group gifted their fans with a free download song, "Fireproof," from the upcoming album. The catch? It was only available for 24 hours, and only from OneDirectionMusic.com.
Columbia says that 1.1 million downloads of "Fireproof" -- which is not the lead single from FOUR -- were generated in the 24-hour span, worldwide. It's unusual for an A-list act to give away a track in this way, so there are few comparables. That said, it's worth noting that industry sources say a typical free single of the week in the U.S. iTunes Store generates around 300,000 downloads, on average.
In addition, Twitter reports that there were 1.7 million tweets about "Fireproof" on Sept. 8 through 6 p.m. At its high point, the topic was generating 5,369 tweets per minute. All that chatter helped drive "Fireproof" to No. 1 on the realtime Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 chart, where it spent about eight hours locked in the top slot.
Columbia also notes that FOUR has been doing brisk business with pre-orders via the iTunes Store. It has topped 67 of the merchant's country-specific album lists, according to the label. A year ago, when One Direction's last album, Midnight Memories, became available to pre-order (on Sept. 9, 2013), it led 39 iTunes territories.
All of this buzz could lead to One Direction scoring its fourth consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, when FOUR is released in November. It would follow their chart-toppers Up All Night, Take Me Home (both released in 2012) and Midnight Memories. Combined, the three titles have sold 5.4 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.