The industry talk this Monday is how any copies of Reputation Taylor Swift will sell this week. At the moment, it’s on pace to sell somewhere around 1.4 million units in the US alone, a stunning number in the age of declining CD sales and the rise of streaming.
That will be 1.4 million CDs, vinyl records and digital downloads and will not include any of that weird “track equivalency” weirdness that comes with streaming. That’s because Reputation is not streaming at all. It’s being held back from Spotify et al until the buying frenzy settles down.
So how did her people do it? How have they managed to get Swifties to get excited about parting with their allowances for a piece of plastic or a digital download?
The “Verified Fan” Gambit
Ticketmaster’s new “Verified Fan” program is designed to allow actual human beings first dibs on concert tickets while keeping the ticket-buying bots away. In Tay-Tay’s case, fans were incentivized to become verified (and to battle for a spot in the queue for tickets for her upcoming tour) by pre-ordering Reputation. It worked. By November 3, over 400,000 copies had been re-ordered.
The Withholding Gamble
Deciding to keep Reputation off the streaming services was easy once you did the math. First of all, no one has ever sold a million copies of an album in its first week when the album was also available on Spotify. Analysis of previous album releases told Taylor’s people that if Reputation was made available to stream, tracks from the album would be streamed around 200,000. That would generate revenues of about $2.1 million.
However, if the album was kept from streaming, it would only have to sell 300,000 copies to make that same $2.1 million. Anything beyond that would be very, very profitable–far more profitable than had streaming been available at the time of the album’s release. And now that it’s set to sell 1.4 million copies–well, you can see how smart that decision was.
Taylor and her people are quite brilliant when it comes to marketing an old format.