Ever since Lady Gaga’s Born This Way was released on May 23, much has been made of its pricing and promotion, a multi-tiered plan that included partnerships with everyone from the folks behind “FarmVille” to Best Buy … and, of course, Amazon.com, which decided to price the album at 99 cents on the day of release to promote its Cloud Drive service (and when the download demand subsequently sank the site, they extended the deal for a second day).
According to some estimates, downloads through Amazon accounted for nearly half of Born This Way’s 1.1 million sales — which certainly proved that it worked — but at the same time, it also sparked genuine debate about the inherent worth of an album … and whether the Amazon model may have fundamentally changed the way new releases are promoted and priced.
So, in a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gaga was asked whether she believed that Born This Way was worth more than 99 cents. And her answer was somewhat surprising.
“No. I absolutely do not, especially for MP3s and digital music. It’s invisible. It’s in space. If anything, I applaud a company like Amazon for equating the value of digital versus the physical copy, and giving the opportunity to everyone to buy music,” she said. “It also wasn’t really 99 cents, because Amazon paid the difference on all of those purchases as part of their promotional campaign for one of their new services. I think it’s amazing and it was a really nice surprise and I felt honored that they chose my record to be part of it.”
Amazon would be paying the difference on all those 99-cent purchases to Interscope/ Universal Music Group — a tab that could run as high $3.2 million, according to Billboard.biz — but in the long run, that loss might actually be viewed as a win, since it drove traffic to the site and raised awareness of its fledgling Cloud Drive service. And Gaga is the first to admit that the plan isn’t for everyone … it’s up to individual artists (and their labels) to determine a price point. But she’s happy with the results this time out.
“I don’t know if other artists or other companies would want to adopt the same model,” she told the WSJ. “Everyone always has the opportunity to sell their music at any price they want to. This sort of happened this way and it’s very exciting.”