Katy, Gaga, Rihanna: Why do pop artists dig deep on their albums for singles?

Today, Lady Gaga announced that “Marry The Night” will be the fifth single from “Born This Way.” The club thumper was originally supposed to be the third single from the set, according to Entertainment Weekly, but got pushed aside for “Edge Of Glory.”

Rihanna and Katy Perry both went six deep on their current albums. Contrast that with Perry pushing four singles from “One of the Boys,” while Rihanna”s “Rated R” also had a quartet of singles (five if you count “promotional” single, “Wait Your Turn.” Lady Gaga”s “The Fame Monster” had three singles. Lil Wayne has already released six singles (not all to the same formats) from “The Carter IV,” and that album only came out a month ago.

What”s going on? Some random, totally unscientific, thoughts:

*If an album has success with first single, such as Perry did with “California Gurls” from “Teenage Dreams,” and the next few singles fly up the charts as well, there”s little reason to stop the momentum. Perry”s sixth single had different reasoning behind it: she”s trying to set the record for a septet of No. 1 tracks from one album, but even without that agenda, we still think we may have seen this move.

[More after the jump…]

*Conversely, if an album”s singles are doing well, but not hitting them out of the park, such as the first five singles from “Born This Way,”  a label often wants to keep the project alive as long as it can. The first five singles from “Born This Way” have all landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, but none has had the stickiness to stay there for particularly long so Interscope is still looking for that hit with glue on it. Remember, “Rude Boy,” the biggest hit from “Rated R” was a late-in-the game single.

*The churn rate is much faster at Top 40 for some songs than others, especially for a song that debuts high, based primarily on digital sales, and radio play never catches up with sales.  Not every song can be “Rolling in the Deep” or even “Party Rock Anthem,” in fact, very few are. Compare the burn rate at pop to country, where a single can take six months to work its way up to the top (and there”s very little crossover into other formats). Country album seldom (although occasionally) go deeper than three singles. Note we are talking about Hot 100 songs here, not AC or Hot AC, where a massive song can be on the chart in high rotation for close to a year.

*A sale is a sale is a sale. Before digital downloads became so prominent, labels would usually stop plugging singles when there was the feeling that album sales had reached a max- or at least that the considerable cost of promoting another single to pop radio wouldn”t be offset by the albums sales it would spur. Now, so many pop music fans are consuming favorites by the artists track by track instead of purchasing the full album. Therefore,  going deep can be a very smart financial move because if a late single hits big and ends up selling 1 million to 2 million downloads, that money is a bonus.

Can there be too many singles from one album?