Last month, Lady Gaga made it very clear that ARTPOP would be so much more than an album — we believe the phrase she used was "a reverse Warholian expedition" — a multi-screen experience powered by an official app that "combines music, art, fashion and technology with a new interactive worldwide community."
Said app would, presumably, also include a link to purchase the ARTPOP album — or specific tracks — and here is where the conspiracy begins.
It seems several Gaga detractors have started speculating that the app is nothing more than an elaborate way for Mother Monster to goose sales of her album, suggesting that, each time a fan downloads a single track through the app, Billboard would count it as an album sold ... thus guaranteeing ARTPOP "the biggest debut in history." They also floated the notion that sales figures wouldn't be able to be tracked by SoundScan, but rather would be reported by Gaga's own camp, in yet another attempt to inflate her first-week numbers.
To be fair, Gaga has engaged in some rather, uh, creative first-week sales promotions in the past, though the ARTPOP idea seemed a bit far-fetched ... though that didn't stop Perez Hilton from re-tweeting a blog post that suggested the Mother Monster was planning to "fraudulently boost album sales" with her new app.
So on Wednesday (July 31), Billboard editorial director Bill Werde waded into the fray, taking to Twitter to set the record straight on how the ARTPOP app will affect sales.
"As we understand, Gaga fans will get [the] ARTPOP app for free and can buy the album in app. Albums purchases this way would count on Billboard charts," Werde wrote. "One downloaded song via the ... app will no more count as an album on our charts than it would if bought at iTunes."
Werde added that "concerns about self-reported data by Gaga seem unfounded," saying that sales will be fulfilled and reported by existing digital retailers.
There were, of course, questions from Gaga's fans (and haters) about just how the ARTPOP app differs from Jay Z's much-discussed Magna Carta Holy Grail, the first million copies of which were given away for free — via an app — to users of Samsung Galaxy phones. SoundScan famously didn't count those first million copies towards the album's sales figures, and neither did Billboard, citing a long-standing policy against bulk sales.
So why will they count copies of ARTPOP sold through the app? Because fans will actually have to pay for them, that's why.
"For those who may ask: this is obviously different from Jay Z's Magna Carta/Samsung [deal] which gave app for free but had no option for fans to buy," Werde wrote.
ARTPOP is due on November 11. In a Twitter spree on Wednesday, Gaga revealed that an "app placeholder" will be available for download on August 19, the same day the album's first single (and video), "Applause" are released.