Lady Gaga has made quite a career as a Madonna clone, something that the Queen of Pop was fine to tolerate until she decided it was time to kick-start her music career again this year. At that point, emboldened by a general opinion that Gaga was a similar but lesser product than her, Madonna earlier this year referred to Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ as ‘reductive’ – an accurate but nonetheless scathing term … especially in an age where computers with sophisticated software can dissect songs so easily to show their origins and similarities.
Now, just one week after claiming the #1 spot with her new album MDNA, Madonna is again showing Gaga how it is done … but in this case she would probably rather not!
If you recall from last June, Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ hit big with a full-album sale on Amazon.com for $0.99 that broke the online retailer’s servers! Most folks knew the title song already, so getting the entire album for the price of a song (actually cheaper than most new release songs!) was an easy decision – easy enough that more than 400,000 people did it! The following week she broke the record for biggest second week drop ever – 85% overall and 94% digital!
After that happened, the folks at Billboard decided that new rules were needed to prevent publishers from ‘gaming the system’ with money-losing sales obviously designed to inflate sales numbers.
But almost as if to thumb her nose at Billboard and Soundscan, Madonna and her people found a way around the new rules. As:
The first week’s sales, as I revealed exclusively (and then the New York Post lifted it from us), most of Madonna’s first week sales were CDs that were included in the sale of concert tickets. That promotion artificially inflated Madonna’s numbers, putting her first before Lionel Richie and his “Tuskegee” album.
Obviously by splitting out a portion of the ticket sales as ‘album sales’ they could circumvent the ‘Lady Gaga rule’. But while that victory helped them grab some first week sales from people who would have bought the album anyway (since they were buying concert tickets), it couldn’t help at all this week – and
Madonna‘s “MDNA” album had the biggest second week drop in chart history last week, I am told. When all the numbers are in on Tuesday night, “MDNA” will have fallen from number 1 by 88%–from 359,000 copies in its first week to roughly 46,000 the second week.
While I enjoyed many of Madonna’s pop contributions going all the way back to Borderline (which I still keep on my iPod), I immediately bristle and vote against anyone gaming the system like this – I have no problem with great sales and using a free CD as an incentive to buy a concert ticket, but when they are such an obvious and desperate device to prop up obvious disinterest in a release, I hope for failure.
What do you think? Is Madonna the latest 50-something former music icon who, like Van Halen and others, needs to either figure out how to adapt their art to their age and the times … or leave things to younger folks and hit the revival or Vegas circuit like Styx or Celine Dion?