Taylor Swift is the only artist still selling CDs


Taylor Swift lover

Today Taylor Swift is releasing her highly anticipated seventh studio album, Lover. There is no doubt that the pop star’s record, with hits as high profile as “ME!” and “You must calm down” – will be successful. Especially if you consider CDs.

Streaming is by far the most popular way to listen to music. According to Nielsen, streaming accounts for 80% of music consumption in the United States (up from 54% just two years ago). While vinyl has shown signs of a nostalgia-fueled recovery, sales of physical CDs and cassettes continue to plummet.

Except, it seems, for Taylor Swift fans.

Variety reported this week that lover is is already approaching one million units in presale. Swift’s 2017 album, Reputation, racked up one million physical sales in the United States in its first week and has now sold over 2.2 million copies. For comparison, Ed Sheeran’s book To divide finished second (pdf) that year with a meager 511,000 physical sales.

From 2010 (the year of his third studio album, Speak Now, released) until 2017, Swift consistently dominated physical album sales. Every year she released an album, it was among the top three sellers in physical copies. Other recent mega-sale physical albums include Adele’s 25, which eclipsed Swift in 2012 by over a million copies, and the Frozen soundtrack, which basically linked Swift in 2014.

Although Reputation Makes Swift the top-selling artist in terms of physical album sales, she has been far worse than the other ten top-selling artists (in terms of overall revenue) when it comes to streams. Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Sheeran all had a lot more streams, which allowed them to outshine Swift in terms of overall popularity.

Album and stream sales for the top ten artists in terms of recording revenue in 2017



Album sales

Flows (in billions)

Album sales for 100,000 streams







Kendrick Lamar





Ed sheeran





Taylor Swift










Bruno Mars





The weekend





Malone substation










Lil uzi vert




The Swift demographic is predominantly made up of young people. You would think they would prefer streaming over buying CDs. But as Mikael Wood noted yesterday in the LA Times, as many artists like Ariana Grande have become streaming lovers, Swift has consciously avoided the platform, maintaining a commitment to physical recordings.

“Swift has resisted the move to streaming, saying platforms don’t fairly pay creators for their work,” Wood wrote. Yet as she kept her music off Spotify – conditioning her loyal following to think of buying her songs and albums as an act of devotion – young artists like Grande emerged to establish themselves as streaming favorites. “

Even though Swift ceased to be a country artist years ago, some of her early success in selling CDs may have been bolstered by the fact that country is often the highest-selling genre of music. ‘physical albums. Country listeners have what the Ringer describes as a “robust album-buying culture,” thanks to a number of factors, including a generally older population.

Aside from Swift’s success with CDs, it might be a misnomer to call these numbers “album sales”. According to the New York Times, adding albums to a set of merchandise (which includes things like concert tickets and clothing) has become standard practice in the music industry, so much so that some artists protest the way Billboard measures sales. In 2018, of the 39 albums rated No.1 on Billboard, at least 18 were sold as part of a merch deal. Swift was the second most prolific bundler that year, after Travis Scott.

Package enthusiasts will be happy to know that Lover is also sold as a package. Some products on Swift’s website, from bags to sweatshirts, include free digital downloads of the new album. Her upcoming collaboration with enduring designer Stella McCartney, released in conjunction with the album, can also be grouped together. Likewise, purchasing the album from Target, which sells four different deluxe versions of the CD, will get you the physical album in addition to trinkets like posters, a diary page, and “a unique set of entries.” of Taylor’s diary, handwritten lyrics and archives. Pictures.”

Fans will also feel pressure to buy the album just to secure seats at Swift’s next gig. The artist partnered with Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan platform during his 2017 tour to ensure that the people buying tickets were real fans rather than scalpers. Verified Fan uses online data to verify whether the ticket buyer has purchased their albums or products and watched their videos, and enables those fans to obtain tickets at a reduced price compared to those sold on the Free market. A Financial Times (paywall) report suggests the strategy earned him an additional $ 50 million on this tour. Presumably, she will use the strategy again to Lover.

Despite the first signs of strength in physical sales, Lover could be the last CD we buy. contrary to Reputation, Swift unleashes this record on all major streaming platforms, including her former nemesis Spotify, with whom she now partners. “Love, Taylor: The Lover Enhanced Album” will launch exclusively on the platform with a number of extras, including a so-called “audio message love letter” (no, we don’t know what it’s either) and a handwritten note from the pop star.

It’s unclear how its streaming pivot will affect the album’s overall sales. (The singles that have been released have received mixed reviews so far.) What is evident, however, is that Lover marks Swift’s transition from an anti-streaming mascot to a collaborator. It’s a big step for Swift, and possibly a final death note for the CD.

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