Major Labels

I’m Sad Taylor Swift Just Sold 1.2 Million Copies Of “Red”, But Not For The Reason You Think

image from Swift
sold 1.208 million albums in the U.S. last week.  That makes "Red" the 3rd best selling album of 2012, and the eighth largest sales week for an album since SoundScan started tracking in 1991, according to Billboard. But with these first week numbers, impressive by any standards, come some sobering stats that should concern the music industry.

Let's leave reviewing the quality of this release to the critics, and the Taylor bashing to the tabloids.

The Statistics

What should concern the entire music industry, is the fact that this one album by Taylor Swift accounted for 19.3% of all albums sold in the U.S. last week. Look at just country music and "Red" accounted for 62.6% of all albums sold last week. 62.6% of all sales…

What happened to everyone else?

Dozens of new records by notable artists were released last week, not to mention the 22+ million or more tracks from several million previously released albums available for sale online.  With all of this music available, almost 1 out of 5 albums bought in the U.S. last week were copies of "Red".

We've also been told, "The album was dead.  It's just a singles market now." More than 1 million of Taylor Swift's fans apparently disagree.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy ?

Many will argue, correctly, that Taylor Swift appeals to the masses and has a colossal marketing machine propelling her. But if she can sell 1 million copies in 1 week, why can't more artists sell 100,000 or even 10,000 in a year? 

Didn't Taylor Swift, her team and her fans get "The Music Industry Is Dead" memo? Or has the demise of the music industry become a self-fulfilling prophecy? 

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  1. Hopefully all the physical music is dead people will now focus on clicks and brick distribution strategy since fans seem willing to spend north of 10 bucks again for it.

  2. You raise a lot of interesting questions. The industry is just ALL over the place. I can’t say that Swift is a great example of success for other musicians though. I’ve read too many stories that Swift’s father is rich and has used his own fortune to propel her career (to the length of going as far as buying tons of albums himself). Every time I see a major release like this that hits #1 all I can think of are the ways the majors are influencing the numbers to get more press and recognition. Lady Gaga’s label did it with the $1 album price on Amazon. The reason why the industry is all over the place is because sales are lower across the board and the majors are either fudging the numbers or manipulating the system to make the people think they’re still #1.
    Free album download at

  3. “The Recorded Music Industry As It Existed For Decades Is Dead” isn’t quite as catchy a phrase but that’s really the issue at hand. The profit-greedy, radio-dominating, artist-abusing juggernaut will never be the same and most consumers and artists will cheer that. The “Music Industry” continues to do just fine as it evolves to meet new challenges same as it always has.

  4. It’s definitely a shame that so many new artists go unnoticed due to mainstream music like T Swift (although I have to say her album was better than I expected.) I try to buy a few new albums every month, mostly unsigned indie bands. This month I bought one from this new band called Treat + Release, which turned out to be the better of the bunch. You guys should check out the main guy’s site and give them a listen.

  5. The paradox is that people with good taste who truly care about the quality and art of music steal it without regard for artists getting paid. On the other hand, the unwashed drooling masses who like what the media tells them to like are willing to politely pay for the music from their manufactured idols.
    So I suppose that this is just more evidence that hipsters are scum.

  6. What? Paradox? People that know about quality art are more educated and intellectual, therefore increasing their chances that they understand economics. If they understand economics, they will buy.

  7. Oh we got the memo, Taylor is just smart enough to hide messages in her booklet. That makes us all buy the cd. Plus you can get RED with extra’s everywhere, extra’s not available on iTunes.

  8. i actually know very few people who only buy singles. as joe biden would say, the claim that we’re in a singles world now is “malarkey.”

  9. USA TODAY 2011 Year-end Summary: “CD albums sold 26.6 million and 103.1 million downloads.”
    NPD Research Feb 2012:”Even as Apple’s iTunes turms 10 next year, there are still nearly twice as many CD buyers in the U.S.”
    The hype, lies, and propaganda from Tech are second to none. It’s time to call them on it and stop the tech bullys, worse than labels ever were to musicians.

  10. That USA TODAY year-end summary should read 227.5 CD albums and 103.1 mil album downloads sold. Typo mistake in post that I cannot fix?

  11. Well, the post is actually the freshest on this worthy topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the tremendous clarity in your writing. I will at once grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business dealings!

  12. Actually, songs are now marketing collateral and mainly a loss leader. Artists that keep hoping to make a living selling records are missing the point. The dynamics have changed and artists need to work on building and maintaining their fan base. Fans are willing to spend real money on almost anything band related like special limited vinyls at $100+ a pop. The music industry has evolved, whether you approve on where it is headed or not so as in life you either adapt or die.

  13. This is just ridiculous!
    If Papa Swift buy so many millions of albums of her daughter… why isn’t ANY PICTURE of that?
    Taylor is extremely famous and she has fans from 8 y-o to 55!

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