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Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way': The path to the 99 cent album


Tough choices for music fans today. Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" for 99 cents in Amazon's download store, or an adorable inflatable dolphin from the 99¢ Only Store?

The value of an album continues to be a nebulous thing, and the digital e-tailer has been a driving force. The low-low-low price points have been a bid by Amazon to increase its market share against Apple's dominant iTunes store, as well as to convert users to its cloud drive (free 20 gigs for those who drop a buck for Gaga). The cloud drive allows users to store purchased music and upload files they already own for listening elsewhere. 

Born_this_way_3) Thus, the battle between Amazon and iTunes seems to have taken on more urgency of late, as Amazon launched its cloud drive and inspired the ire of the music industry by doing so without label and publisher permission. Meanwhile, Apple has been playing ball with the biz, and is expected to soon launch its own officially sanctioned cloud storage service.

While both services will grant users the privilege of storing music they've bought and paid for, by securing the appropriate licenses from music publishers and songwriters, Apple can simply scan a user's collection and make all of those songs available within minutes for them to listen to over an Internet connection. It remains to be seen whether or not music obtained by what the industry deems "illicit means" will be included too. 

Meanwhile, as the hand-wrangling continues on the cloud services, the album continues to depreciate in value. Amazon's 99-cent sale is one day only, or so the site was advertising Monday (a $3.99 promotion for the Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" was continually extended), but it shouldn't necessarily be a shocker. Heavy loss-leading by retailers was in effect long before the maturation of the digital marketplace, as was the case in 2002, when the discounting of the Dixie Chicks' "Home" to $8.99 by Best Buy merited a news mention in Billboard.

In 2006, Best Buy raised eyebrows again, when titles from the likes of the Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene were sold for $2 below cost at $7.99. It's been a fast acceleration downward since, with Radiohead in 2007 allowing fans to pay what they wanted, and Amazon bowing U2's "No Line on the Horizon" for $3.99 in 2009.

And here we are, with the 14 tracks of "Born This Way" going for the price of a song. The battle may be over market share or cloud-storage dominance, but caught in the crossfire will be the price point at which consumers will be willing to pay for an album. Oh, and meanwhile, iTunes is selling "Born This Way" for $11.99


Apple making its move into cloud music

Music labels lash out at Amazon's cloud service

A brief history of the album's recent decline in value

-- Todd Martens

Images:  A screenshot of the 99¢ Only Store's weekly advertisment and a screenshot of Amazon.com's Lady Gaga page.


Comments () | Archives (8)

Honestly i expected a lot more..still love her..I accept the album and will probably keep playing it until i force myself to like it..but really? am i really doing this? I was waiting so long for this album and nothing is even good about it... Still a big Gaga fan but Britney did it again in 2011.

GAGA is queen! This album is amazing. I own Britney, Rihanna, and Katy Perry....they suck and I regret buying them to fill the void of GAGA. This album stomps on all of them in one track.

Pretty good album. There is about six or seven songs I really really like. The others were kinda weird at first but after a second/third listen they started to come around. Love the themes/lyrics and as always Gaga's voice is one-of-a-kind. My only complaint is they went alittle over-the-top with the background music production and not many songs showcase Gaga's true vocal talent. Still though, a great album if you just wanna get up and dance!

In fairness to other new album releases this week, I hope that SoundScan will not count the .99 sales as a full album. Reminds me of Prince's trick a few years ago of including albums that came with his tickets as legitimate sales.

I agree-you can't seriously count a 99-cent download as a CD sale. At 99 cents this is not going to be a serious representation of demand for the CD.

Lady gaga is my favorite singer, I have her all albums and start my schedule with her songs.

I don't really care for her but a sale is a sale. Amazon isn't the first company to discount albums.

All of the CDs you get for free for buying Hallmark cards during the holidays count as a sale.

I dont care for the price , I care for the incredible music that is on this album. It's very odd , b ut if your a true GAGA fan , you know whats up .


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