Amazon 99 cent promotion fuels nearly half of album sales

Lady Gaga made the splash she (and Interscope) sought last week, as the flamboyant singer’s “Born This Way” burst onto the U.S. album chart with sales of more than 1 million copies. The sales coup was partly due to two days of 99¢ promo sales on Amazon, which moved an estimated 440,000 digital copies.

It’s only the 17th album to top a million in 20 years of SoundScan tracking.Gaga’s release made its expected entry at No. 1 with a 1.10 million unit total, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending Sunday. Last album to surpass set’s first-week level was 50 Cent’s “The Massacre,” which shifted 1.14 million in 2005. Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” bowed with 1.04 million last year.

“Born This Way” hit the market a day early with a Monday release date, and every imaginable alternative retail outlet was assaulted in quest for blockbuster sales. But the Amazon promotion accounted for nearly half of all sales at the deeply discounted rate, a tactic which also fueled sales of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.”

Week’s runner-up title, country star Brad Paisley’s “This Is Country Music” (Arista Nashville), made a comparatively quiet bow at No. 2 with first-week sales of 153,000 units. Collection matched Paisley’s album chart peak, previously set by 2009 and 2005 titles.

Adele’s still-potent “21” (Columbia) dropped two positions to No. 3, but continued its healthy sales clip with a 126,000-unit week (off just 8%). Album should top the 2 million mark in the coming week.

The “Glee” cast’s “The Music, Vol. 6″ (Columbia) entered at No. 4 with 80,000 sold; it’s the Fox musical show’s 11th consecutive top-10 title.

Compilation “Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made Vol. 1,” first fruit of rapper Rick Ross’ label deal with Warner Music Group, entered at No. 5 behind sales of 59,000.

Collection contains tracks by Meek Mill, Pill, Wale, Ross and other Maybach acts. “NKOTBSB” (Columbia), collaborative effort by New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, debuted at No. 7 with 40,000 sold.

In week of Gaga’s triumph, the boy bands’ relatively humble bow sharply delineates changing musical tastes: Backstreet Boys account for two of the million-selling debuts of the SoundScan era, “Black & Blue” (1.59 million, 2000) and “Millennium” (1.13 million, 1999).

L.A. indie-pop act Foster the People’s debut full-length “Torches” (Columbia) entered at No. 8 with a 33,000-unit debut.

Week’s other holdover titles at the top included the “Now 38″ comp (No. 6, 45,000 copies, off 10%), Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” (No. 9, 33,000, up 14%) and Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” (No. 10, 25,000, flat).

Sales should calm down somewhat in the coming week as new releases by Death Cab for Cutie, Flogging Molly and My Morning Jacket reach the chart.

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