A Dip in Taylor Swift Sales Reflects Changing Times

'Lover' does extremely well, but doesn't crack 1M album sales; streaming is on the rise
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2019 11:20 AM CDT
Swift Celebrates Breaking More Records
This cover image released by Republic Records shows "Lover", the latest release by Taylor Swift.   (Republic Records via AP)

Taylor Swift had "one of the best weeks of my life" following the Aug. 23 release of sixth studio album, Lover. Not only did the album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, as with each of Swift's previous releases, but it saw the biggest sales week of any album since Swift's 2017 release reputation, with the equivalent of 867,000 units sold. Actually, there were just 679,000 albums sold in the US in the week ending Aug. 29, with Nielsen counting another 188,000 sales based on streams. The album failed to measure up in the sense that Swift's four previous releases hit the 1 million sales mark in the first week. However, the Wall Street Journal sees the singer's decision to release an album to stores and streaming services simultaneously for the first time as a bit of an investment. Previously, she has waited weeks to offer the streaming component.

Whereas album sales can fall more than 80% after the first week, streams tend to fall less than 50% before holding steady. This "lengthens the monetization window for an artist," Nielsen Music analyst David Bakula tells the Journal. The outlet points out that streaming now accounts for 80% of total music consumption in the US, up from 60% just two years ago. Swift, who logged 226 million on-demand audio streams in Lover's first week, certainly doesn't seem worried about the dip in overall sales. "I can't thank you enough," she said in a video to fans posted on Twitter Saturday. Billboard reports the singer has now become the first female artist to have six albums sell at least 500,000 copies in one week. (Swift recently offered her thoughts on President Trump.)

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