Madonna‘s “MDNA” album is expected be the number 1 album in the country this week. Final numbers will come in later today.
But in fact, Lionel Richie, with nearly 200,000 copies of his “Tuskegee” album sold–his best debut in 20 years or m0re–could post a valid complaint. It turns out that a hefty number of “MDNA” albums weren’t sold the usual way. Madonna’s label, Interscope, and Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, bundled the album with her ticket sales. For every ticket sold online to Madonna’s upcoming shows, purchasers automatically receive a copy of “MDNA.” They get a link to a free purchase on ITunes, or they can send in their mailing address for a physical CD. It doesn’t matter if the concert ticket is $52 or $350. It’s a smart marketing move for Interscope. It unnaturally inflates sales, and uses “MDNA” for what albums have become–souvenirs, or loss leaders.
The real money is in the live show anyway. No one knows yet how many of “MDNA” sales will be attributed to the Ticketmaster giveaway, but numbers will probably be broken out in the next couple of days.
Here’s the wording from Ticketmaster’s website: Get “MDNA” with your Ticket- Madonna is having a huge party and everyone’s invited. For every ticket purchased online, you’ll receive your choice of a digital or physical copy of Madonna’s new album MDNA. Prior to the album release on 3/26, you’ll receive an email from Ticketmaster with redemption instructions. If you purchase your tickets on or after 3/26, you’ll receive your email within 48 hours. Offer is valid for United States residents & events only. Please note: This offer is not valid for tickets purchased through Official Platinum Seats or TicketExchange.
This is not the first time this has been tried. In the past, both Bon Jovi and Tom Petty had “bundles” with CDs and tickets. They just weren’t as successful. One source tells me that their pick up rates weren’t necessarily that high. “Not everyone takes the CD,” says the source, although it seems unlikely that customers who want a ticket to see an artist don’t also want their new music– as it’s already included in the price of admission.
Billboard wrote about this not too long ago. “This sort of ticket/album promotion has been used in the recent past by such acts as Bon Jovi and Tom Petty. The latter’s “Mojo” album saw a No. 2 debut on July 3, 2010 — thanks to a fair number of customers who got the album via a ticket purchase. The same goes for Bon Jovi’s 2007 No. 1 album “Lost Highway.” The only sales that will count towards Billboard’s charts are those where the customer opted to receive the album.”Information Not Found | Billboard.com
Is it fair to artists on the chart who didn’t “bundle”? Last year, retailers and others objected when amazon.com did a 99 cent promotion with Lady Gaga for her “Born this Way” album. But Interscope (again Interscope) sold their bulk of CDs in first two weeks. The amazon promotion inflated Gaga’s sales by 440,000 copies to 1.1 million. And then sales tapered off. The Richie album, by the way, is “hot.” So the real test will be whether “MDNA” has legs beyond the promotion.