Home Uncategorized Madonna Pumps Up Album Sales Artificially– MDNA is DOA

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.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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