Along with her sci-fi aesthetic and genre-bending sound, Lady Gaga's success is due in large part to a "shrewd use of new digital platforms," writes The Wall Street Journal. Adding to huge sales on iTunes, much of Gaga's audience gets her music free and legally, listening to streams -- by the hundreds of millions -- on YouTube and the other online services, according to research firm BigChampagne. On MySpace, meanwhile, Gaga has had 321.5 million plays. (By contrast, singer Susan Boyle tallied only 133,000 plays, despite scoring the No. 2 selling album of 2009.)
"While most artists stand to profit more from high-margin CD sales, being embedded across the Web can pay dividends in exposure and the loyalty of fans," BigChampagne founder Eric Garland tell the Journal." The Journal goes on to argue that the music industry's only hope is following Gaga's self-propelled formula. "Without the budget and staff to support their once overloaded artist stables, labels have slashed their rosters and doubled down on acts expected to drive hits."