Music Marketing

Digital downloads still have value and Taylor Swift just showed how

Digital music downloads have declined in popularity in the streaming era. Still, Taylor Swift just took us all to school yet again with four new digital versions of her recent ‘Midnights’ album.

Each version featured new cover art (a photo of Swift) and different bonus content relating to one of four tracks – “Mastermind,” “Anti-Hero,” “Karma,” and “Bejeweled” – on the album. Placed next to each other in a square, the four albums form a full clockface similar to the covers on the four special vinyl editions of Midnights that Swift released in September.

All four “Midnights” vinyl album covers

Swift smartly priced each new digital album at $4.99, making the purchase of all four an affordable $20. The usual price for a digital download of the album on Swift’s site is $14.99.

Much like a limited edition NFT without the blockchain, Swift also created scarcity by making these special editions available for one day only.

Swift also sold directly to fans without sending them off Amazon or Apple Music. That not only allowed her to keep more revenue but to capture the purchase and contact data for each of the fans making a purchase.


These are all smart and simple strategies that any artist could riff on.

Four unique versions can be just one or two, Alternative photos and short audio about writing and recording a song are simple to produce. A limited one-day sale could be a week or month-long or until 100 or 500 “limited editions” are sold. Selling downloads direct to fan like a piece of merch means more profits and data.

Here’s a Bandzoogle guide that includes information on how to sell downloads on your site and other platforms.

Downloads are not making a comeback the way vinyl has, but Taylor Swift showed that they still have a place in most music marketing and monetization plans.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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