Musicians who bend the rules by offering their albums for a dramatically cheaper price on sites like Amazon with hopes of bolstering album sales and rankings on Billboard’s charts, will continue to play the system—for now.
In an Editors Note entitled “Why Billboard Isn’t Revising Chart Policies for Lady Gaga’s Amazon Deal,” released earlier today, Bill Werde, Billboard’s editorial director, says that the music industry staple will not tweak their charting system in the wake of the recent surge in heavily discounted internet sales, saying that the group is a “market archivist and not a market activist.”
The controversial trend is not limited to mainstream acts like Lady Gaga who, earlier this week, offered her new album on Amazon for 99 cents, but also includes independent acts like Arcade Fire and Best Coast, who both offered their most recent LPs for $3.99.
Check out an excerpt from the release below.
Billboard looks for consumer intent when it comes to counting albums. So, for example, if an artist bundles an album in with the purchase of a concert ticket, we insist that there be a voucher for a physical album or a download code for a digital album, both redeemable by a third party. In the case of non-music items — T-shirts, phones, vitamins — that are bundled with CDs, there is a requirement that that non-music item be made available both with and without the CD, with the CD option costing reasonably more than the option without the CD. In these instances, the fan has not simply been spammed with music they may or may not want, but has made an active choice to acquire the music. This has been our stated policy. And this is why, for example, we will not count the albums that Best Buy has given away this week, as there was no clear indication that the people receiving the album actually want it, as opposed to simply wanting to buy a phone. As for that phrase “reasonably more,” I’ll be spending some time thinking about defining that more clearly.