Is Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now’ a sales bust or boom?

10.26.10 7 years ago

Matt Sayles/AP

Is Taylor Swift singlehandedly going to save the music industry? Of course not, but it looks like she”s going to have a darn good opening week.  After only 24 hours on sale, “Speak Now” is on target (or should we say on Target, given her exclusive deluxe edition through the retailer) to sell as much as 900,000 in its opening week, according to Hits Daily Double. That would best this year”s former champ, Eminem”s “Recovery,” which sold  741,000 copies in its opening week in June.

“Speak Now”  is on top of iTunes” album chart today, followed by Kings of Leon”s extended version of “Come Around Sundown” and the regular version.

Additionally, four of the songs, “Sparks Fly,” “Innocent,” “The Story of Us,” and “Dear John,”–a quartet of tunes that were not released prior to the album”s street date– are in the top 10 on iTunes” Songs chart.

So why is Swift still selling albums when many of her younger fans are dedicated singles buyers?  Here are a few reasons why:

*As much as Swift has become a pop sensation, much of her base is in country and country fans, by and large, still buy albums, not just singles.

*In the media, Swift has done such a canny job of letting everyone know that each song is about someone else–and that someone else is possibly very famous–that people want the whole album so they can guess whom the tracks are about and parse the not-so-hidden meanings. Speaking of, here is a really fun piece by my colleague Chris Willman about whom each song may be about.

*Even though many of her fans are singles buyers, they are now buying the tracks that hadn”t previously been released over the last few weeks, so once someone buys 10 tracks from an album (regardless of how many tracks over that there may be on the album), that counts as an “album equivalent” sales to Nielsen SoundScan.

*Although she”s only one more album into her career than Katy Perry, Swift has built up an extremely loyal following. Perry, whose “Teenage Dream” sold less than 200,000 copies in its first week in a major disappointment,  is seen by many as more of a “celebrity” than an artist. That”s no necessarily her fault, but Swift stays out of the gossip rags, by and large, and focuses largely on her music.

*For newer fans who had never heard of her before the whole Kanye West  2009 MTV VMA kerfuffle (which she very adroitly managed to keep alive for a full year until she debuted “Innocent” at this year”s VMAs), this is their first chance to buy a new album since all that mess.

*In so much as they matter at all any more, the album is getting stellar reviews across the board, which helps those sitting on the fence to plunk down their money. Here’s our review.

*Her label, Big Machine, saturated the market. There are rumored to be 2 million copies out there, so the good news is there is no chance of anyone walking into a retailer and not being able to find it because it”s on back order.

*As is usually the case on opening week for most superstar titles, there is some nice discounting going on. “Speak Now” has a list price of $18.98 (not that anyone is paying that), but it is selling for $8 at Amazon and Target ($14.99 for the deluxe edition) and  $9.99 at Best Buy.

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