Hmmmm. Very interesting!
In a recent email, they explain as follows:
In short, we’ve made a change to protect the integrity and intent of the Billboard charts. Ultimately, what swayed us to make change now – removed from any pressure connected to any particular album – was the fact that we wouldn’t want an album that sold for one penny to count on our charts. Our charts are meant to indicate consumer intent. And once you accept that you don’t want to count penny albums, the only remaining question is simply where a threshold should be. After canvassing the industry, we arrived at a $3.49 minimum price point as being the most reasonable for a new (or re-released) album as that figure is slightly more than half of the average wholesale price for a digital album and has been established as a bottom-tier discount price among consumers for digital releases.
I guess Lady Gaga has ruined it for everybody who wanted to boost their Billboard rating by slashing prices!
-Chris R. at CD Baby