Zac Brown Band, Maroon 5 in Race for Billboard 200 Top Spot

As the U.S. music industry awaits for this week's The Billboard 200 chart to be compiled by Nielsen SoundScan, the Zac Brown Band's "You Get What You Give" and Maroon 5's are in a dead heat vying for the No. 1 spot, with each expected to generate about 150,000 units for the week ending Sept. 26.

That's a far cry from initial expectations for both records. Prior to its release, the Zac Brown album was expected to ship about 475,000 units while Maroon 5's initial shipment is about 500,000 units with deluxe versions included. First week projections for the albums, respectively were 250,000 and 210,000.

But both shipment numbers and first week sales projections were made back before Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" album ushered in a new reality, in which album sales are under siege in a new way.

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With the No. 1 spot up for grabs, Octone, its distributing label Interscope and its distributor Universal Music Group Distribution went into high gear to tilt sales in Maroon 5's favor last week.

"We blitzed everything from Monday through Sunday," says Octone's senior VP of sales and artist development, Rome Thomas. "We went to retail, looking for opportunities to drive sales of the album; and not just the for Maroon 5, but also how can we drive consumers into stores."

Sources say that in one of the moves made, Octone/UMGD offered retailers a $3-$4 rebate for every record sold from Friday, Sept. 24, through Sunday, Sept. 26, in exchange for sale pricing under $10. Sales, of course, would have to be verified by point-of-sale statements.

The Maroon 5 record carries a $10.35 wholesale price on the regular version before the rebate, while the Zac Brown regular album carries an $11.86 wholesale cost.

Retailers says this type of rebate if "fairly standard operating procedure," when records are in a close chart race.