With music sales in the tank and continuing to erode–digital downloads fell for the first time this year–little margin for error exists in the business these days, according to sources.
Like most pop music phenoms, Gaga was a juggernaut when she broke on the music scene.
Booming record sales, concerts grosses and other assorted revenue made it possible to fund Gaga’s increasingly expensive and elaborate costumes, stage sets and high-concept music videos.
But once the machine stops, it’s hard to get it started again. Gaga was forced to abandon the lucrative North American leg of her “Born This Way” tour last year in February so she could undergo hip surgery.
Lady Gaga Makes a Statement
Here is the text of Lady Gaga’s Web statement to fans: “you are so beautiful , and your message to me is so powerful. in fact it is much more than the media, the media has also supported me in the past. there are always ups and downs. my heart breaks from the people i have trusted and loved who i’ve worked so closely with, who have used me, lied to me, worked me into the ground for the personal gain. when i woke up in the hospital after my surgery there were many people that were not there. my health did not matter. i did not matter unless i could perform. this is a very hard lesson. I have lost love ones to the greed of money. it is not interscope. They in fact love me very much and will see ARTPOP to the end.
The North American leg was almost completely sold out and would have upped her tour gross to as much as $200 million according to some estimates. As it was, Gaga was forced to refund $25 million in ticket sales, according to Billboard.
After that she was sidelined for months to recuperate. In the meantime, artists like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perr, Selena Gomez and Ke$ha moved in on her pop music demographic, already hemmed in by established acts like Rihanna and Beyonce.
Nowhere was that more evident than at the MTV Music Video Awards last August. Gaga’s performance was almost an afterthought compared to Cyrus’s over-the-top performance and other acts.
When it came time to jump-start her career with ArtPop, Gaga had planned a full-own promotional campaign complete with high-cost videos.
“She needed a laser-sharp, focused media blitz to really reintroduce her brand with emphasis on her album,” says one PR guru. But her campaign was haphazard and poorly focused from the get-go.
Gaga emphasized her “multi-media” project; the album got lost in the hype and her own weirdness. According to some sources, Gaga bristled at the idea of having to work on a budget and under a deadline.
Getting off-message obviously didn’t help sales. Her fourth studio album debuted in November fronted by a huge and expensive production team that included DJ White Shadow, Madeon, Rick Rubin, Zedd and The Black-Eyed Peas’ will.i.am .
The album was also oversold. Initial forecasts called for first week sales of 300,000 to 350,000 copies. It debuted at No. 1 on the charts but sales stalled at 258,000 copies. Radio mostly ignored it.
Critical reviews and word-of-mouth took their toll. Sales dropped 86 percent the next week. Although still the fourth best release for a female artist on the year, the album was declared, perhaps unfairly, a “flop.” It certainly didn’t cost the label $25 million as some reports allege.
Gaga also learned the hard way that music is a mercenary business. Once the money dries up, the hangers-on, associates and collaborators fade away.
“My heart breaks from the people i have trusted and loved who I’ve worked so closely with, who have used me, lied to me, worked me into the ground for the personal gain,” she wrote on her web site.
“I did not matter unless i could perform. this is a very hard lesson. I have lost love ones to the greed of money.”
Gaga’s finger-pointing can’t be helping the situation. But where she goes from here is anyone’s guess.
Check out her statement above, let us know your thoughts and follow TheImproper on Twitter for music news you can trust.