In just three days since Midnights’ release, Swift shattered modern-day record sales
THE DAYS WHEN A SUPERSTAR COULD SELL A MILLION RECORDS IN THEIR FIRST WEEK ARE SUPPOSED TO BE OVER, a relic of a time before streaming services when fans still primarily purchased albums and drove artists’ album sales.
But, as she frequently does, Taylor Swift has shifted the goalposts in terms of what the music industry considers to be possible from a major pop star.
The first-week sales of Swift’s 10th album, Midnights, are unprecedented in the streaming era. According to data from Luminate, which provides figures for Billboard’s charts, Swift has already sold 1.2 million album units in the first three days of Midnights’ release, as Billboard reported Monday.
Midnights has already broken single-day Spotify streaming records. But, in an era when physical sales and digital purchases are no longer the dominant currencies, Swift still managed to persuade her audience to buy her album the old-fashioned way.
According to Luminate data, digital downloads, CD, cassette, and vinyl sales accounted for over 955,000 units — nearly 80% of total sales. Swift sold approximately 500,000 vinyl copies, marking yet another high point in the still-ongoing vinyl boom.
Those figures reflect Swift’s near-unrivaled ability to move merchandise. Swift encouraged fans to collect four unique vinyl and CD editions, each of which had its own cover art, and drove fans to purchase multiple copies, in addition to t-shirts, eye masks, and a branded guitar, with Midnights directly on the home page of her website.
In the few years since Reputation’s release, the recorded music industry has changed dramatically. While streaming appears to be almost ubiquitous at this point, it only overtook physical units and digital downloads as the dominant revenue stream in the music industry in 2017, the year Reputation dropped.
Getting fans to buy in instead of the stream is still a sure way to drive chart success. Iron Maiden achieved its highest-ever album debut with Senjutsu last year, four decades into the band’s career, primarily through CD and vinyl sales and special deals with Target and Walmart.