Music insiders can’t predict who will come out on top

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Who will claim the No. 1 album? Right now, it’s too close to call.

Industry insiders were asked to predict whether Justin Bieber’s Purpose or One Direction’s Made In The A.M. will claim the coveted top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and the race is so tight they’re not sure; the champion may only win by a few units.

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Current projections put first week sales for both albums just above 300,000 units, not including streaming and track equivalent albums, reports Billboard.

One executive told Billboard he thinks the competition is so stiff that it’s “going to be tighter than Pentatonix and Demi Lovato’s race for No. 1.” Both Pentatonix and Lovato moved 98,000 copies and only 270 units separated Pentatonix’s No. 1 from Lovato’s No. 2 position, according to reports from Nielsen Music.

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Currently, One Direction has about 170,000 units on pre-order versus 110,000 for Bieber, but insiders believe Bieber has the slight edge regardless. Because Bieber’s record has 19 songs versus 1D’s 17-song LP, he could rack up more streaming points. “Both albums are expected to total between 50,000 and 80,000 equivalent units, with Bieber possibly winning that race by 10,000 units or so.”

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Both acts’ promotional game is on-point. Bieber’s four days into his week-long stint on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, is Access Hollywood’s Artist of the Month, will drop by The Tonight Show on 11/17 and The Today Show the following morning, plus Bieber announced surprise show dates at the Staples Center in L.A. on Friday which will also premiere his dance film Purpose: The Movement (and will get a TBA primetime TV airing). Fans had the option to purchase tickets for $18, but for $22 they would receive the album as well — the arena can hold 18K people per show. Right now, two of the L.A. shows are sold out with a third added on Thursday (and apparently has a fourth slot locked down just in case). Bieber also announced shows in Chicago on Nov. 18 and Houston the following day.

I heard u. 3rd Staples added for Fri and Chicago & Houston next week. On sale 10am local tomorrow 🙂 #PURPOSE

A photo posted by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

One Direction will also be on GMA next week to perform several songs, including the U.S. TV premiere of “Perfect,” reports HDD. They also launched a first listen event with preorder at movie theaters that could count towards their sales totals.

It’s going to be close.

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