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Billboard Former Employee Interview Part 2: Billboard’s Unethical Relationships With Lady Gaga And Justin Bieber

Billboard Former Employee Interview Part 2: Billboard’s Unethical Relationships With Lady Gaga And Justin Bieber

Read Part 1 of out interview here about how Billboard helped” Michael Jackson.

Welcome to Part 2 of our interview with a former veteran employee of Billboard.

PMS: Describe Lady Gaga’s relationship with Billboard

Former Billboard Employee: The only way I can describe it is to say it is the most unethical thing I have ever seen. Lady Gaga, through her past two managers and Interscope, has funded millions of dollars into Billboard, sometimes indirectly. The magazine was  going down the drain financially, but Lady Gaga kept it afloat. Justin Bieber, through Scooter Braun, has helped as well.

PMS: Can you be more specific?

Former Billboard Employee: Well, the money didn’t start pouring in until around 2011. Bill Werde was the managing editor then, so I don’t understand why she had to pay the magazine so much money. He basically had a hard-on for Gaga. He was obsessed with her to the point his coworkers even started questioning his state of mind. Don’t get me wrong, Werde was (and probably still is) a wonderful guy. He just let his personal tastes in music get the best of him.

‘Billboard’ allowed Lady Gaga to chart with her 99 cent scam after allegedly being paid to do so.

Billboard was notified that the album Born This Way would be released for 99 cents, and that it would cause an uproar. However, Gaga’s management (which is different from her new management) paid the magazine a lot of money not to change Billboard‘s charting methods. I’m not sure what the amount was. It was also agreed that Bill Werde would write an article and appear on different news shows to defend Lady Gaga’s 99 cent deal, which everybody else thought was desperate. However, there was a huge backlash among Billboard employees. One outspoken critic was chart co-manager Keith Caulfield (whom I am surprised is still at the magazine since he is one of the only ones there with ethics). Eventually, Billboard had to cave in and change their charts to not allow an album to chart if it costs less than $3.49. It pissed off Lady Gaga. And Bill Werde was pissed that his decision was overridden. I’m not sure if the money that Gaga paid for her chart position was returned.

PMS: There was a lot of controversy over Bill Werde, and there was a famous internet troll around the time that called out his firing right before it happened.

Former Billboard Employee: Angela Chang!

PMS: Was she just a troll, or did she have some true inside information?

Former Billboard Employee: She, he, or it….was both. This Chang person rocked the industry and Billboard so much that it forced Bill Werde to make calls everywhere, get her fired, and then attempt to defend himself. He says he wasn’t fired, but just moved on to another position. However, he took the fall when it was discovered that Billboard was manipulating their charts in favor of Lady Gaga. Werde was in several meetings with Lady Gaga, Interscope, etc. and agreed to let all streams of her song “Dope” count towards the charts. However, there was one main problem: The video (and I’m not sure how much Interscope paid for it) for Lady Gaga’s performance of “Dope” was put in front of EVERY SINGLE YouTube video for the whole week. If somebody didn’t click “Skip” in five seconds, which most people didn’t, it counted towards the charts.

PMS: And the song hit the top 10 in Billboard the next week, even though it was far from a hit.

Former Billboard Employee: Exactly! That was the plan all along. To give an illusion that Gaga was so hot that she would have two hits in the top ten. I believe this is what got Werde fired, although Janice Min, who has taken over for Werde, isn’t much better when it comes to Billboard helping artists like Lady Gaga manipulate the charts.

Janice Min allowed Lady Gaga to pay for the "Billboard Woman of the Year" Award in 2015.
Janice Min allegedly allowed Lady Gaga to pay for the “Billboard Woman of the Year” Award in 2015.

PMS: Speaking of Janice Min…

Former Billboard Employee: She is an absolute disaster. The most dishonest and corrupt woman that has ever been born into this society. She actually agreed to give an award to Lady Gaga for “Woman of the Year” last year as long as Gaga funded money into one of Billboard’s charities, which I believe deals with educating lower-income students with music classes. You read the letter Prince posted, right?

One employee quit after learning of Billboard's scam with Lady Gaga
One employee quit after learning of Billboard’s scam with Lady Gaga

PMS: How did Prince get a hold of the letter?

Former Billboard Employee: I was gone by the time the controversy came to light. My understanding is that an employee, who is no longer an employee, sent it to Prince and other music industry insiders. Janice Min fired at least three employees who questioned the ethics of calling Lady Gaga the “Woman of the Year” when she didn’t even have one hit in 2015 and was being bashed by critics for her role in American Horror Story.

PMS: Wow! You mentioned Justin Bieber earlier…

Former Billboard Employee: Yes, Billboard was part of Justin Bieber’s comeback campaign. Thousands of dollars were poured in by Justin, his manager Scooter Braun, and Universal for a comeback campaign, which has worked. His management had literally written over 30 articles for Billboard to publish last year, which they did under certain authors. Billboard also held several meetings with Justin’s team to suggest how the highest chart numbers possible can be achieved. You would not believe it!

PMS: We believe it!

What do you think of this former Billboard employee’s revelations? Tell us in the comments section.

Read Part 1 of out interview here about how Billboard helped” Michael Jackson.

An Interview With Former Veteran ‘Billboard’ Employee

An Interview With Former Veteran ‘Billboard’ Employee

As Pop Music Scandal has revealed Billboard’s unethical alliance with Lady Gaga these past couple weeks, a veteran employee of the magazine got in touch with us. We met for an hour conversation this afternoon, and the interview is very telling. Of course, for legal reasons, we can’t give his real name, but his information is interesting.

PMS: What made you get in touch with us and write such a passionate letter?

Former Billboard Employee: I worked with Billboard for several years. I thought what you wrote might have been over-exaggerated, but I just knew there was also some truth to it and wanted to tell you the real story.

PMS: What did we over-exaggerate?

Former Billboard Employee: I don’t think artists ever meet with Billboard and try and pay them cash to cheat. That is a ridiculous assumption (no offense). But you’re not far off. Billboard does do “favors” for certain artists or their record companies, but they don’t add unearned points to artists’ songs so they could chart better.

PMS: Be More Specific

Former Billboard Employee: In 1995, around the time Billboard started going downhill, Tommy Mottolla met with the magazine after Michael Jackson’s HIStory wasn’t selling as well as expected. Motolla wanted to know if Billboard had any “suggestions.”

I was at the meeting when they informed Motolla that since single sales were big, Sony could severely reduce the price of the single.  Thus, we have the beginning of the end of the relevance of Billboard‘s charts. “You Are Not Alone” was released at 99 cents (49 cents in come places) and debuted at No. 1 — thus giving the illusion that people still wanted to hear Michael Jackson. Then, Sony started doing this with a lot of artists. Soon, other labels followed.

PMS: Didn’t anybody at Billboard say something, like how wrong it was. 

Former Billboard Employee: If they did say something, they were fired. But, it gets worse. Later in the year, there was a meeting with Billboard, Sony, and, I think, Soundscan. Michael’s album had shipped more than 2.5 million copies though it didn’t sell nearly as much. Sony wanted to make it seem like a bigger hit because everybody was calling it a flop, though it certainly wasn’t a flop worldwide.


It was Billboard that suggested a double album (if the recordings go over a certain time — I forgot what that was) should get double certification. I thought it was an okay idea, but the only reason the idea even came up was to appease Sony, not because Billboard thought it was really the right thing to do. Suddenly, overnight, Michael Jackson’s album went from being certified 2X platinum to 5X.

PMS: But Billboard did change their charts in 1998 to reflect airplay more than sales, correct?

Former Billboard Employee: That was three years too late. And the only reason they did it was because a lot of people were criticizing the charts. Billboard didn’t care if the industry was cheating, After all, Billboard was now PART OF the industry, but pretending to be a magazine that reported on it.

PMS: You said in your letter that Billboard has special “relationships” with other artists besides Lady Gaga. 

Former Billboard Employee: Yes, Billboard tends to develop special relationships and act as a publicist for pop divas, given that over 80 percent of the employees are gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that. [He laughs at the Seinfeld reference from the 1980s.]

PMS: Can you give any names?

Former Billboard Employee: Well, at beginning of 2015, when reports that pre-orders for Madonna’s Rebel Heart album were crashing — which I thought was ridiculous because pre-orders don’t stay on top for a long time — her management contacted Billboard to try and fix up the PR damage. Billboard wrote a front-page article [it is posted here] about how pre-orders for the album were estimated at between 50,000 and 60,000 copies — that number was WAY exaggerated. If the album sold that much in pre-orders, there is no way it only debuted with sales slightly more than 100,00 copies when it came out.

Janet Jackson is another recent example. Her team had several meetings with Billboard. I don’t know what the contents of those meetings were about. I do know that Janet was gaming the system by giving away free copies of her album at her concerts to people who bought other things. Janet’s team claimed the album sales were part of a bundle, but many argued if those getting their free copies were aware of any bundle. Then, there was something that had to do with albums given away with Uber rides, but I don’t remember exactly what it was.

PMS: I remember the Janet Jackson thing and thought that Billboard needed to take a stand on that. 

Former Billboard Employee: Well, of course. And other employees were pissed as hell. But if they said anything, they were suddenly “let go.” It only got worse when Janice Min took over.

Stay tuned to Part 2 of Pop Music Scandal‘s interview, which deals more specifically with the truth behind Bill Werde’s exit, Janice Min’s takeover, and more specifics about Billboard‘s relationship with Lady Gaga.