Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ is back in the charts. it is also the first album to sell a million copies in the US when nobody is buying albums anymore. At the top of this, we are living the most disastrous year of the century, 2020: How does Taylor Swift do that?
2020 canceled all tours and concerts in March so no artists could promote any album after this date. I cannot think of one artist who didn’t suffer from the pandemic. Selling merchandise online without a tour had to be a challenge in 2020, but not for Taylor. The album’s huge sale increase is simply due to her official website, she is selling $25 autographed CDs for a limited time and the sales are going through the roof: a gain of 709% according to Billboard.
Today, ranking albums is more complicated than just sales, albums earn units (one album sale corresponding to one unit) based on physical sales, track equivalent albums (TEA), and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). In the tracking week ending October 22, ‘Folklore’ earned 77,000 units, that consist of 57,000 units due to album sales, 20,000 units due to SEA, and 500 units due to TEA. Meaning that the album sales are mostly responsible for the recharting of an album released 3 months ago.
However, the sales have been steady and strong, these new 57,000 have brought the sales of ‘Folklore’ to a million, a unique case this year. Of course, Swift is used to this, it’s her ninth album to sell at least 1 million copies in the U.S., but again, we are in 2020 and ‘Folklore’ continues to have the most weeks at No. 1 for any album.
How does Taylor Swift do that?
She knows her target audience, and connects with it on any occasion, she has a devoted base, an extensive Swifties army, but so does Lady Gaga, for example, However Swift cultivates her fandom, she makes them feel special, meet them, greet them, she even gives away scholarships, and she makes sure this is well advertised in prominent papers. When she meets her fans, she wants everyone to believe that ‘she is just one of them.’ Look at her chatting with fans on a plane on her way to LA, she has a snack for looking adorable and totally genuine, even though who knows how she feels at this moment. Despite her well-publicized serial dating history, she is still the cleanest pop star on the planet.
She also knows how to surprise her fans, ‘Folklore’ was unannounced and she regularly delivers other surprises, like these autographed CDs for example, while her merchandise bundle choice is endless.
Recently, she publicly endorsed Biden and Harris, and even though I don’t doubt her sincerity, she is well aware that she is embracing her young base’s main choice, and this reinforces her connections with her fans.
She is a well-known savvy businesswoman, several websites (like here and here) are analyzing her business sharpness, from her powerful and incessant use of social media to her brand astucious protection and the people she surrounds herself with. There is a long list, and she is not missing one mark.
Whatever her fans say, she is successful because she does all this and more, more than any other artist out there. You even have to wonder whether her business savviness even surpasses her musical talent: the driving force that catapulted her last album back at the top of the charts was certainly a good example.
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