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With ’1989,’ Taylor Swift Set to Notch Another Million-Seller
When Taylor Swift released her album “1989” on Monday, the music industry at large doubted it could sell one million copies in a week, as Ms. Swift’s last two records have done.
But the last few days have taught the business a lesson: never bet against Taylor Swift.
While early estimates for “1989” had been as low as 750,000 copies, the album now appears very likely to cross the million mark, according to industry estimates reported by Billboard, and could reach as high as 1.1 million. The success is a testament to Ms. Swift’s lasting star power as well as her tenacity and canniness as a marketer. Even in a deeply depressed music market, Ms. Swift has remained a master of inspiring deep loyalty among her fans, in part through social media.
“Fans really feel they have a connection with Swift, and want to have the full experience, so to speak, by buying the ‘1989’ album,” said Keith Caulfield, an associate director of charts at Billboard. “Fans feel like Swift is their BFF.”
Taylor Swift’s “1989” is set to become the first platinum album of the year, according to Billboard.
Taylor Swift’s “1989” is set to become the first platinum album of the year, according to Billboard.Credit
If “1989” does sell one million copies this week, it would instantly become the first platinum album released this year, as well as the first to open with a million since Ms. Swift’s own “Red” two years ago. Ms. Swift would also take her place as the only act to have three albums hit a million in a single week since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991. (The Backstreet Boys, N’ Sync and Eminem have each done it twice.)
To promote “1989,” Ms. Swift and her record company, Big Machine — in partnership with Universal Music’s Republic label — went on a marketing blitz across virtually every platform of media. This week Ms. Swift made a string of television appearances, including “Good Morning America,” “Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Voice,” where she is a talent mentor. She is also in commercials for Diet Coke and Target, and has received extensive promotion from big radio networks like iHeartMedia and CBS Radio.
And, of course, Ms. Swift was all over Twitter and Instagram, counting down the hours until the album release and retweeting dozens of pictures of her fans holding up the album after they bought it. In the weeks leading up to the release, Ms. Swift held “secret sessions” with fans, playing them the album and serving Rice Krispies treats.
Ms. Swift is one of a handful of major acts that have withheld their newest releases from streaming services like Spotify, a strategy intended to drive greater sales of the album.
The music industry’s standard accounting week for sales ends on Sunday, and Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks retailers, will report the final numbers for the week on Wednesday. On this week’s Billboard chart, which counts sales made last week, the heavy metal band Slipknot opened with 132,000 sales of its new album, “.5: The Gray Chapter” (Roadrunner)
'Anything That Connects': A Conversation With Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has had one amazing week. Her new album, released Monday, is on track to eclipse 1 million sales by Tuesday. The last artist to go platinum in a week was Swift herself with her 2012 album, Red. So by the time she arrived at NPR's New York bureau today, she'd earned the right to a little goofiness — in this case, showing up in her Halloween costume, a fuzzy white bodysuit with wings that she described as a Pegasus-unicorn hybrid.
Her new album is titled 1989. That's the year Swift was born, which means that at just shy of 25 years old, she's spent close to half her life in the music industry. In a far-reaching conversation with NPR's Melissa Block, she addressed how things have changed since she began her career a decade ago — not just for her, but for the teenaged girls who have always been her primary demographic — as well as how she's reacted to the digital age's effect on media, music and feminism. Hear the radio version at the audio link, and read more of their conversation below.
TAYLOR SWIFT’S “1989” SALES PACING FOR 1.3 MILLION, CHASING BRITNEY’S RECORD
Based on current tracking, "1989" will score the best opening week sales count of Taylor Swift's career. It might also break Britney Spears' record.
So long, 1.2 million. Hello, 1.3 million.
Analysts have once again raised their sales forecast for Taylor Swift’s “1989.” After lifting it to the million-plus mark Tuesday, the 1.1 million mark Wednesday and the 1.2 million mark Thursday, industry insiders are now eyeing an opening week total of 1.3 million, says Hits Daily Double.
Indicative of a welcome–and unexpected–increase over Swift’s 2012 release “Red,” which moved 1.208 million copies in its opening week, the “1989” forecast puts the singer-songwriter on the cusp of something even more momentous: the all-time record for female artist.
A forecast of 1.3 million brings Swift’s album within striking distance of the 1.319 million opening week sales tally achieved by Britney Spears’ “Oops…I Did it Again.” That mark still stands as the greatest inaugural sales frame for an album released by a female act.
Even if Swift’s “1989” falls short of that mark, there is no longer any debate that it will score more than one million sales this week. It will thus earn Taylor Swift the distinction of being history’s only artist to score three opening week sales counts in excess of one million.
Hits adds that Swift’s “1989” is tracking for a first-week digital sales total in the 618,000-662,000 range.
The significance of those numbers? 618,000 reflects the opening week sales count for Beyonce’s surprise iTunes release “Beyonce.” 662,000, the largest opening week digital sales count ever, was achieved by Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” with help from the infamous 99-cent sale on Amazon.
Four Lessons From Taylor Swift’s Latest Hit Record
By Devin Leonard October 31, 2014
Few people thought she could do it, but Taylor Swift is on track to sell 1.2 million copies of her new album, 1989, in the first week of its release. Last week, Billboard gloomily predicted she would sell only 800,000 to 900,000, which wasn’t so far-fetched: None of Swift’s peers had crossed the one-week, 1 million-unit threshold this year. The prevailing theory was that she would fall victim to the same trend. Instead, Swift is embarrassing the naysayers. There are lessons to be learned from her success. Here are four of them:
Avoid Spotify. Swift and Big Machine, her independent record label, chose not to release 1989 on Spotify, the leading streaming music service, forcing her loyalists to purchase the record. Predictably, Spotify has argued that Swift has treated a large number of her fans shabbily. “There are over 40 million music fans on Spotify and Taylor Swift has nearly 2 million active followers [on the music service] who will be disappointed by this decision,” a Spotify spokesman told Mashable. “We are working to bring this album to fans on Spotify as soon as possible.” Perhaps, but Swift and her label did the same thing for several months with Red, her last release, and it sold 1.2 million copies in its first week, too. Why alter a winning formula?
Don’t forsake retail. In the weeks before 1989’s debut, Swift appeared in a stylish Target (TGT) advertisement, hawking a special edition of the album with three extra songs and three “songwriting voice memos.” It’s paying off. Billboard reports that in the first two days 1989 was on sale, Swift moved 247,000 units at Target, making it her second-largest sales generator after Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes Store. Interestingly enough, Swift sold a mere 30,000 copies at Wal-Mart (WMT). Did Wal-Mart bury the record to punish Swift for cozying up to a competitor? If so, it obviously hasn’t hurt her.
STORY: Taylor Swift and 1989 Can Save the Record Industry
Genre is not such a big deal. Last week the New York Times warned that sales of 1989 might suffer because Swift had jettisoned her Nashville roots on the album and alienated powerful country radio programers. “A lot of folks wished that she would have done some songs that would be more compatible with country radio, but she hasn’t,” Joel Raab, a country radio consultant, told the Times. It turns out Swift can thrive without their support. The public has long been fascinated by her transformation from country singer to pop star. That’s why there’s been so much interest in 1989: It’s a crucial chapter in her personal narrative, and fans care more deeply about that than genre choices.
Selling a million albums is hard work. There was a time when many pop stars acted as if there was something déclassé about selling albums. They were artists, after all, loath to sully themselves with anything blatantly commercial. Swift takes a different view. Besides the Target ads, she also pushed 1989 in a spot for Diet Coke (KO) in which she plays with a horde of adorable kittens. Last week, Swift conveniently appeared in posters for Subway, urging her admirers to enjoy a Diet Coke and a hearty sandwich and to “pre-buy” her forthcoming album. Apparently this is what you have to do to sell millions of records these day. Granted, it’s tough to imagine Bono or The Edge in a Diet Coke commercial, but the alternative isn’t working for them either.
How Much Is Taylor Swift Worth?
Taylor Swift’s 1989, released October 27, is tracking to register close to a million copies in first-week sales. That means it’ll likely become the first platinum album of 2014. And like Red and Speak Now before it, the pop-leaning LP will earn the 24-year-old superstar a boatload of money.
In 2011 and 2013, Swift placed in the top ten of Forbes's annual Celebrity 100 list, ranking the power of stars based on income, Google hits, media coverage, fan-base size, and more, although she slipped to No. 18 this year after earning $64 million (the dip was likely due to the fact that she hadn't released an album in 2013). Odds are she’ll do just a teeny bit better in the next rankings. Because Taylor doesn't readily explain how and where she earns her money, here's our best guess as to how her monetary worth all shakes out.
Real Estate: $86 Million
There's the $1.99 million Nashville penthouse condo she bought in 2009 and a cozy $3.97 million three-bedroom house in Beverly Hills, where she recently hosted 89 of her biggest fans for a 1989 listening party, even baking them cookies. In 2011, she spent $2.5 million buying a Nashville estate for her parents, and last year she purchased an eight-bedroom waterfront mansion in Rhode Island, for which she reportedly paid $17.75 million in cash. This year, she bought Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's Tribeca penthouse for around $15 million, then spent somewhere around $5 million to buy the place across the hall, so her security team can have its own digs. As far as getting to and from all that property? In 2011, she also bought her own 12-seater plane, a Dassault-Breguet Mystere Falcon 900, for about $40 million and stores it in her own hangar at Nashville International Airport.
Music Earnings: $205.75 Million
According to Billboard figures, Swift made $39,699,575.60 in 2013 from touring, album sales, royalties, and streaming fees — in the U.S. alone. Her tours behind Red, Speak Now, and Fearless have grossed $133 million, $123 million, and $63 million, respectively. Billboard assumes that the artist gets 34 percent of the gross after manager and promoter fees, so we'll assume that, for those three tours, she likely netted $108.46 million.
Off the road, she's sold more than 30 million albums and 75 million singles downloads, a fixture at the top of the Billboard charts. Billboard assumes a 20 percent royalty rate minus producers' fees for all sales, so we'll lowball it at $12.99 per album with a going rate of $1.29 per single. That's $77,940,000 in album sales and $19,350,000 for a total of $97,290,000.
Taylor has made deals with Diet Coke, CoverGirl, Keds, Sony, Elizabeth Arden, L.e.i. Jeans, and American Greetings, which, according to them, is the world's largest greeting-card company. There are no exact figures on those deals, which are all reportedly in the six- to seven-figures range. One favorable comparison is Beyoncé's $50 million deal with Pepsi, which includes TV, print, and online ads as well as a fund for some of Mrs. Carter's creative projects. As a "brand ambassador," Taylor has shilled effectively for the rival brand, talking about her love of Diet Coke in an interview with Bon Appétit and drinking the soda during interviews. So, let's go low and say Taylor got half of Beyoncé's deal, bringing in $25 million for her continuing support, and $500,000 for the others, meaning another $6 million. On top of that, Billboard notes that her Red tour "boasted three integrated sponsorships (Keds, Elizabeth Arden, Diet Coke) whose estimated cash value is believed to be in the high seven figures, and, at $17 per head in merch sales, Swift stands to bring in an additional $10 million gross." Applying the same 22.6 percent rate as what she brought home for her ticket sales, that's $2,260,000.
Net Worth: $195.8 million
Forbes estimates she's earned $252 million since June 1 of 2008, while our modest figures see her earning $239 million in income with another $86 million in real estate and plane assets. Being in the current 39.6 percent tax bracket, she's probably paid $94.6 million to the IRS over the years, not factoring in any charity, other deductibles, and any creative accounting. Her dad is an SVP at Merrill Lynch, and her mom worked in mutual-fund marketing, so it's fair to assume that Taylor has all her ducks in a row when it comes to finances. With an above-average 15 percent going to management, other staffers, and care for her cats Meredith and Olivia Benson, that would all leave her with $195,844,245.11, with a whole lot more coming soon after 1989.
Taylor Swift Teases '1989' Tour During 'Good Morning America' Concert
Taylor Swift is currently in the middle of jam-packed press tour, but she's already excited about getting out to arenas for a 1989 tour.
The singer teased what will definitely be a hot ticket during an outdoor concert on Good Morning America on Thursday morning.
"I am gonna be going out on tour very soon! We're in the early stages of planning the actual show," she told Robin Roberts. "I'm excited about announcing things when I can announce them, but it's going to be happening!"
Between performances of "Welcome to New York," "Out of the Woods" and "Shake It Off," Swift also reiterated that all proceeds from the sales of "Welcome to New York" will benefit New York City schools, and noted how excited she is to be NYC's global ambassador for tourism.
And she praised her fans for supporting her album, released earlier this week: "You guys are so fast at learning lyrics!" she said. "I'm having the best week of my life, thanks to you."