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Billboard Issues New Sales Rule Due to Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ Fire Sale

Lady Gaga
Christian Augustin, Getty Images

Remember when Lady Gaga‘s ‘Born This Way’ dropped for 99 cents on Amazon and debuted at No. 1? That was the first and last time anyone’s pulled that stunt, because it inspired a new rule for chart calculations.

Entertainment Weekly reports that out of the 1 million copies of ‘Born This Way’ sold in its opening week, 440,000 were downloads from Amazon’s 99 cent fire sale. For its part, Amazon claimed that it paid full price for the album and that it was actually a loss leader for their Cloud service.

However, enough people griped to make a new rule: Albums priced below $3.49 won’t be included in sales tallies for Billboard charts. Assuming that half of the ‘Born This Way’ buyers only purchased the album because of the 99 cent price — and thus deducting 220,000 sales from Gaga’s opening week — Entertainment Weekly estimates that Lil Wayne’s ‘Tha Carter IV’ would have hit No. 1 instead.

In fairness to Mother Monster, ‘Born This Way’ still would’ve sold more than Coldplay’s ‘Mylo Xyloto,’ and Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch the Throne’ and Drake‘s ‘Take Care.’

Though it’s unlikely that a sales tactic like this would occur again, it’s a fair rule to have just in case. A large number of consumers purchased ‘Born This Way’ solely because it was inexpensive, not because it was necessarily great. As Gaga’s singles sales from this album reflect, many casual listeners may not have purchased the album at full price — so it was a sneaky tactic to steal that thunder from other artists who didn’t have this kind of deal available.

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