Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way is projected to sell 1.15 million units in its first week, according to Billboard. The chart magazine notes that this is the biggest first-week since *NSYNC‘s Celebrity sold 1.88 million in its first week a decade ago.
Some pop chart wonks are up in arms about this, because of the effect of Amazon’s’ drastic loss-leading tactics. Approximately a third of all sales of the album were Amazon digital downloads, which cost customers a mere 99¢ for the entire album, with Amazon eating the remaining $7.40 of the wholesale digital price, costing them over $3MM. Amazon chalked up this substantial hit to their bottom line as a promotional expense for their own digital store —which drastically trails iTunes— and their new cloud drive.
That these sales are counted towards the sales total especially stings Britney Spears fans, who still remember when Blackout was headed for a #1 debut in 2007 until Billboard changed its policies midweek to allow a retailer-exclusive record (in this case, The Eagles‘ monster-selling Walmart-exclusive Long Road Out of Eden) to chart, bumping Blackout to #2.
Billboard was actually bombarded with so many questions about their response to Amazon’s pricing tactics that editorial director Bill Werde wrote a lengthy—but not dry—explanatory editor’s note. His take, in short: Billboard may revise its policies in the future, but Werde does not believe it is the chart magazine’s place to change rules in response to a given week’s projected outcome (implicitly saying he would not have changed the rules were he in charge on the Britney-Eagles week). So pricing thresholds may be in Billboard‘s future, but as for this week, Born This Way will be number one with a bullet.