Either Amazon or Interscope or both of them have dealt a blow to Lady Gaga‘s “Joanne.” They’ve deep discounted MP3 downloads of the album for $3.99, just about the lowest you’re allowed to price an album for and still make the charts.
The album was released last night and went right to number 1 on both iTunes and amazon. But the deep discount is going to cause a furor since most MP3 albums are priced between $8.99 and $11.99. Deep discounting in the past led to an industry wide decision that albums had to be priced at a minimum of $3.49 to be eligible for the charts.
But pricing “Joanne” so low is a signal that neither Amazon nor Interscope has much confidence in the record. And that basically sucks. “Joanne” turns out to a terrific collection, Gaga’s best yet, most mature offering. And by mature I don’t mean boring. Far from it. It’s really a rich group of songs and one that has to be heard in its context. For some reason, Interscope has already thrown three singles into release, none of which has caught on. They came with no context and no marketing as far as I can tell. Is this because Gaga is leaving the label? Is Interscope going to kill a great album? I think that’s a valid question.
Well, at least I’ve helped. Last night I downloaded the iTunes version for $11.99, thinking there was no Amazon download. Now I’ve added the $3.99 version. You know what? It was worth it. “Joanne” is just great. Lady Gaga’s fans had better buy tons of these albums. And I hope radio gets on some of these songs. They’re hits. (I really love “Just Another Day.”) This could be Gaga’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” It’s that good.