Taylor Swift - 1989 (Taylor's Version) - Aquamarine Green Edition (detail)

Taylor Swift Sells Another Million Albums (Taylor’s Version)

Just last year, after Taylor Swift released Midnights, we wondered if we would ever again see anybody sell a million copies of an album in a week. After all, people are purchasing fewer and fewer albums every year and since Soundscan — now “Luminate” — began tracking sales in 1991, only 22 albums had done it. Well now it’s 23.

Taylor Swift’s 1989 (Taylor’s Version) sold 1.359 million copies in the week ending November 2. This is the largest sales week for any of her albums, and it’s the sixth-largest sales week for any album in the Soundscan era. Her previous high was the original 1989 album with 1.287 million sold in the week ending Nov. 2, 2014.

The fact that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is available in 15 different physical formats didn’t hurt, of course. But come on. How can anybody continue to inspire their fans to shell out real money at this level? It’s remarkable. Swift is the only artist in Soundscan history with six different albums to each sell at least 1 million copies in a single week

That 1.359 million includes 693,000 copies on vinyl (a new record) and 554,000 CDs (nuts!). The rest are digital downloads and cassettes.

Along with the sales figures, the album earned 1.653 million “equivalent album units” (the multi-metric consumption measure where each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams). There were 375.49 million on-demand official streams of the set’s 21 songs (wow!) and 60,000 individual track sales (who still downloads songs?!?). Billboard’s main album chart, the Billboard 200, is based on these “equivalent album units” because nobody other than Taylor Swift sells albums anymore.

1989 was the first Taylor Swift album I really got into. For a short period of time Microsoft had a thing called the “Music Deals” app, where they sold select albums for 99 cents (DRM-free 320bps mp3 files). It didn’t last long but I picked up 1989 before it closed down and I listened to it on repeat on a Megabus trip to Chicago, and I’ve loved it from then on. I still think that three-song section of “Blank Space”/”Style”/”Out of the Woods” is about as good as pop music gets. I eventually also got it on vinyl and have been getting made of by my rock snob friends ever since. Who cares? I’m a fan.

But other than the “from the vault” tracks, I don’t really care about the re-recorded albums. I’m impressed she’s doing it and fuck Scooter Braun, but I don’t need two copies of an album that sound virtually indistinguishable. But good for her. And why not? 1.359 million fans can’t be wrong.

Taylor Swift: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

* * *

Taylor Swift - 1989 (Taylor's Version) -  Sunrise Boulevard Vinyl Edition

All 23 albums that have sold over a million copies in a week (chronologically by release date)

  1. Whitney Houston – The Bodyguard Soundtrack: 1,061,000 (1/9/93)

  2. Garth Brooks – Double Live: 1,085,000 (12/5/98)

  3. Backstreet Boys – Millennium: 1,134,000 (6/5/99)

  4. ‘N Sync – No Strings Attached: 2,416,000 (4/8/00)

  5. Britney Spears – Oops!…I Did It Again: 1,319,000 (6/3/00)

  6. Eminem – The Marshal Mathers LP: 1,760,000 (6/10/00)

  7. Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish & the Hot Dog Flavored Water: 1,055,000 (11/4/00)

  8. Backstreet Boys – Black & Blue: 1,591,000 (12/9/00)

  9. The Beatles – 1: 1,259,000 (1/6/01)

  10. ‘N Sync – Celebrity: 1,880,000 (8/11/01)

  11. Eminem – The Eminem Show: 1,322,000 (6/15/02)

  12. Norah Jones – Feels Like Home: 1,022,000 (2/28/04)

  13. Usher – Confessions: 1,096,000 (4/10/04)

  14. 50 Cent – The Massacre: 1,141,000 (3/19/05)

  15. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III: 1,006,000 (6/28/08)

  16. Taylor Swift – Speak Now: 1,047,000 (11/13/10)

  17. Lady Gaga – Born This Way: 1,108,000 (5/29/11)

  18. Taylor Swift – Red: 1,208,000 (10/28/12)

  19. Taylor Swift – 1989: 1,287,000 (11/2/14)

  20. Adele – 25: 3.378 million (11/26/15), 1.11 million (12/03/15), 1.15 million (12/24/15).

  21. Taylor Swift – Reputation: 1.216 million (11/16/17)

  22. Taylor Swift – Midnights: 1.140 million (10/27/22)

  23. Taylor Swift – 1989 (Taylor’s Version): 1.359 million (11/5/2023)

* * *

Taylor Swift in sunglasses with ice cream.


2022: Taylor Swift sells another million albums (Midnights)

2017: Taylor breaks a million for the fourth time (reputation)

2014: Selling a Million Albums in a Week is a Big Deal (1989)

2012: We missed it when Red sold 1,208,000, apparently. Sorry.

2010: Taylor Swift Proves You Can Still Sell a Lot of Records (Speak Now)

One thought on “Taylor Swift Sells Another Million Albums (Taylor’s Version)”

  1. The reason she sells so many copies is because of all the “variants” she puts out. If she didn’t do that she wouldn’t have the same level as other artists back in the day when physical was everything. As for her re-recording her back catalog, Suzanne Vega did the same thing and had some subtle shade to throw at Miss Swift. Here’s what Suzanne said:

    “In fact, I was thinking of it again, recently, when Taylor Swift made the choice to re-record all of her albums. I really felt there was no point in trying to re-record the albums as we had done them.”

    I completely agree. Why bother putting out the same album again verbatim? Even if you are trying to retain control of your original songs. I don’t want to hear the same songs done all over again exactly the same as they were recorded before. How boring is that? Suzanne Vega also went on to say:

    “First of all, my career is very long. I mean, I have decades of work to look back on. And not only that, but the some of the work that I’ve done with the various producers has been very idiosyncratic. The work I did with Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake [1992’s 99.9F°], have all kinds of odd sounds, breaths, double tracking, you know, odd moments that just happen spontaneously, so there was no way I was going to be able to re-record that. Not to mention that we had all these musicians… We used musicians from The Attractions on 99.9, and also Jerry Marotta, who had worked with Peter Gabriel. So I didn’t want to recreate all of that; I felt that all of that existed, and that was great.”

    What she says is spot on. Suzanne Vega, in my mind, is a class act. She was just as frustrated by the major labels, A&M in this case, holding her masters and doing nothing with it. However, instead of throwing a tantrum about it in the press* she decided to just re-record her songs in new ways and release them as a collection of albums by theme. She didn’t feel the need to boo-hoo about the situation. Does the situation suck? Sure, but that’s the deal. And the deal is certainly fair. you cannot expect a label to pay you, an unknown artist, top dollar to record for them and let you have those masters. How do they know you will make them any money.

    Think of it as a bank loan. You are putting up the masters as collateral to be able to record the albums, tour, and such. A bank’s not going to give you money for nothing. Why should a record label? Even R.E.M. does not own the masters to their first five albums as far as I know. When you start getting to recording and selling records, it’s now a business and a business has got to make money.

    * This is just my opinion of the situation. I don’t claim to know for a fact. I just know how others have acted in the same situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *