Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” is a great album. But half as many people who bought her last album, “ArtPOP,” wanted her new album this week. Or should I say, wanted to pay for it.
“Joanne” will wind up selling half as many CDs, streams and digital downloads as “ArtPOP” did three years ago. The older album sold 260,000 copies in its first week. “Joanne” came in at 160K total for the opening week. You can add in about 40,000 streams for a total including streaming of 199K according to hits dailydouble.com. But it’s a 47% drop since 2013, when there wasn’t much streaming at all.
And compare that to “Born this Way” — 440,000 copies first week including a controversial 99 cent discount sale on Amazon.
Still, “Joanne” — with a first day discount down to $3.99 on amazin– is an anemic number 1 for the week because sales are way down everywhere. It has nothing to do with the quality of the music. It has to do with a generation of music fans who are relying on free avenues to get their sounds.
Lady Gaga is not alone in her sales struggles. Three weeks ago, Solange Knowles debuted at number 1. Now she’s number 27.
At least she’s also doing better than legacy artists. Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees has a new album, and it’s sold fewer than 10,000 copies.
Gaga’s big problem is that she’s been unable to establish a hit single from “Joanne.” Her people threw three singles into the world and they came back like boomerangs. It’s not like she hasn’t worked hard– Gaga’s been on lots of TV and has been part of a pop-up “Dive Bar” campaign.
I hate to say it, but at 30, Gaga’s got a marketing problem. She gave up her wild looks and outfits for performing with 90 year old Tony Bennett. It was admirable artistically, and I loved it. But it turns out that whole episode may have cost her some audience who now think of her as an “older” artist.
The result is the absence of top 40 radio. It’s a very curious turn of events. Gaga records for the most powerful record company in the world–and they couldn’t get her on Z100. It’s not too late– and wouldn’t Gaga at the Jingle Ball at MSG be amazing? It could still happen.