Discount chart-topper

Feel-good music: In the U.S., Arcade Fire sold 156,000 copies of its new album in one week

Chris McKay/Wireimages/Getty Images

How do you score the top-selling new album in America? Montreal’s the Arcade Fire did it with a little help from one of the world’s largest online retailers. Amazon sold digital downloads of the album, The Suburbs, for US$3.99, compared to US$9.99 on Apple’s iTunes, dramatically boosting sales. Amazon still pays the band’s label the requisite US$7, but then offers the album to fans at a loss. Executives at music labels say that Amazon will occasionally promote an album like this in a gambit to attract new consumers and build its brand, reports the New York Times.

Apple is by far the dominant online music retailer, with an estimated 70 per cent of the market. Amazon, despite its considerable online presence, has just 12 per cent. But it appears that the stunt is worth the expense. While Apple’s share of digital music sales has flatlined, Amazon’s has grown four per cent over the last year, according to Soundscan, an official music-sales tracking system.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.