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Lady Gaga’s Platinum Cheat Inspires Chart Changes

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Born This Way*

In May, thanks to an Amazon MP3 Store deal that sold Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' for 99 cents, the album sold a million copies in the week it was released. Going platinum in one week is an almost-impossible feat in these days of leaks and illegal downloading, but Gaga managed to accomplish it solely because of Amazon's deal. The Amp likened the tactic to the days when Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire were using performance-enhancing drugs to blast home runs, and we suggested that an asterisk accompany Gaga's feat. Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, the company that tabulates music sales, agreed with our reasoning, as they announced changes today that ensure no album could cheat their way to a platinum plaque again.

Effective November 21st, the Billboard 200's new pricing policy will only recognize albums that priced above $3.49 for the first weeks of its release. $3.49 is still a lot less than the usual $9.99 to $14.99 iTunes charges for albums, but it's nearly three times more than what Amazon priced 'Born This Way'. Under these new rules, considering Amazon sold 440,000 99-cent 'Born This Ways', Gaga would have fell well short of enough copies to go platinum had this pricing policy been in place. Gaga isn't the only artist to take advantage of these one-week low-price deals, but hers was the most notable considering the anticipation surrounding her sophomore album. Plus, when 440,000 copies of 'Born This Way' sell for a combined $435,600, it's not good for a music industry fighting for revenue, and it waters down what music should be worth.

Additionally, some changes were made toward the Digital Songs chart: Only songs priced more than 39 cents in their first three months of release would count toward sales. There are no songs on iTunes priced for less than 69 cents, so essentially these new rules have been enacted to prevent Amazon MP3 Store from rigging the charts.

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