Leave it to Lady Gaga to spark controversy even when the subject at hand is seemingly benign, not to mention entirely out of the singer's control.
Born This Way, the pop star’s latest release for Interscope Records, debuted to huge album sales and atop the pop charts this week, as expected.
Gaga's 1.1. million copies sold marked the best first-week album sales since 50 Cent's The Massacre sold 1,141,000 copies in 2005. However ...
The figure comes with something of an asterisk. Gaga’s total was fueled by digital downloads – a high percentage of which were deeply discounted.
Last week, Amazon turned heads when it set the price for a download of the record at 99 cents on its May 23 release day. That's for the whole album.
iTunes was selling a download of the 14-song album for $11.99.
Though Amazon only sold the album at that price for two days, Billboard estimated that it sold more than 440,000 albums at that unbelievable price.Nielsen SoundScan reports that overall digital sales among all retailers accounted for approximately 60 percent of the first week sales of Born This Way.
When Taylor Swift’s album Speak Now bowed at No. 1 in November 2010 with more than 1 million sold, only 27 percent came from the digital sector.
Likewise, for Eminem’s album Recovery, which debuted in June 2010 with more than 740,000 copies in its first week, only 34 percent came digitally.
Of course, Amazon still had to pay Interscope the full price, and thus took a huge loss to offer that discount (it did so to promote other services).
Would Gaga have topped a million in sales without that boost? Or did it just save the people who would have bought it anyway $10? We'll never know.
Either way, the Lady remains one of the biggest sellers in the business, and for good reason, as she's one of the hardest-working and most unique.