Hey Spotify: Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ Just Sold 1.287 Million Copies…

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45 Responses

  1. agraham999

    I’ve posted this a couple other places…but it bears repeating everywhere:

    Taylor Swift was able to use streaming for revenue when sales were low and as a promotional tool leading up to a windowed release. It’s reverse radio, where the radio station pays you to play your music.

    But break it down a bit more.

    She sold roughly 1.3M units of her album in the first week. Almost $16M in revenue. She’s #1 on iTunes, and now has 4 albums on the iTunes 200. So likely she’s seeing boosts of her entire catalogue wherever people buy music in both digital and physical forms. She used streaming to drive interest in her new release.

    According to numbers out of Musically, her catalogue was likely earning her roughly $84k a week on Spotify prior to the release, which is great for an artist her size without any new releases. However, in one week she’s generated at least 190 weeks worth of revenue from Spotify by pulling her catalogue and windowing.

    Even if her Spotify plays increased 4 fold after the release (had she kept the tracks on), it would have taken her two months to equal the past week. Plus there is the risk that streaming would have significantly cut into sales.

    And even if her sales peter out over the next week or so and over the next month, she’s done very well. Say she only sells 3 million total, it would take her over a year of sustained plays on Spotify to match that revenue. After that she can throw her catalogue back into Spotify and make her $84k a week.

    In fact any artist of note with a dedicated audience of fans…windowing could be a very smart strategy for releasing new work. You leave the catalogue in streaming as you build to a new release and then pull a bunch of it to capitalize on the impulse sale.

    And thanks to all the media writing how stupid she is…they’ve only massively increased her media profile for free. She’s at the top of all search results and trends on social media.

    So let’s recap.

    Countless people called her an idiot
    She had an incredible week of sales
    The media machine and even Spotify actually helped drive and trend her exposure across every social media platform for free
    She’s essentially proven herself to be a very good business person
    After sales drop, she could put her catalogue back into Spotify and head out on her tour or wait and see how sales are doing on tour. It is completely up to her and she controls her destiny.
    ——
    She looks pretty smart to me.

    Reply
    • Cmonbro

      Taylor is smart but your numbers are all wrong..

      JUST.. Shake It Off was earning her (possibly) 84k a week. That’s just her share. It was still grossing 350k+ a week in total.

      that’s 1 song.. she is earning 24% on..

      So now.. her album assuming they are grossing anywhere between $6-8 on it that is about 10 mill. let’s say she made 2.4 million even though we have zero clue what the album costs to make or promote (both things she has to recoup)

      Im sure she has a sweeter deal (since Mr “Merrill Lynch Swift invested in big machine) but that 2.4m breaks down to 218k a song for the songs she’s paid for (usually 10-11)..

      Now.. numbers don’t look THAT crazy do they?

      Reply
      • adolf

        Taylor isn’t “smart”. Maybe her label is.

        Btw the whole album is full of crap songs.

        No wonder only ugly teens are buying it because her idol “Taylor” made it.

        Reply
      • Anonymous

        That’s what I’m saying, the constant level of disrespect is mind blowing…

        Settlement or litigation…

        Justin Mayer

        Reply
    • Anonymous

      Taylor made had 14 mill plays ($700k) from Shake It Off before it was knocked off Spotify. That’s not small change for a single song.

      Reply
    • wrong!

      agraham999 yes your numbers are wrong and your theory is wrong. Do you guys just make this Sh…t up?
      The fact is she and label are making a stand for various reasons. I believe in Spotify only if it enhances sales and increases revenue, while not destroying value.

      “Windowing” is a necessity in the current state of the business. This will change.

      Ask yourself this, Why as an industry are we pushing for streaming crossover? Please, now we have the data if any of you are in doubt. Fans buy CD’s when they are given a reason to! It’s still a model that’s working.

      Streaming will be a good thing if profitable.

      Great for Taylor and BMLG. Spotify has been nothing but crybabies in this matter. Just give them more power and take your $. See what happens in a few years as the monster grows. These outlets need to be shown that it’s the artists and labels that control music, distribution and terms.

      Reply
    • Buy A Calculator

      SPOTIFY MATH FOR THOSE OF YOU AT HOME WITH CALCULATORS:

      Spotify has ONLY 3m paid in the US at $10 each.

      $10 x 12 mos = $120 per year. Pay out 70% that’s a gross of $84 per year per subscriber. Simple Math.

      That $84 per sub is in revenue to all artists in rights holders. Times that by 3m and you get a whopping $252m a year in a $7b business.

      Multiple that by 10, to get 30m subs @ $10a month and that’s only $2.5b a year… and that’s a big IF Spotify ever gets to 30m paid in the USA… and IF they do, that’s ONLY 2.5b in revenue against the $7b now…

      So you effectively cut the revenue to everyone by 1/2 to 2/3rds… how does this math work without raising the price of subscriptions? It doesn’t.

      It’s just math.

      Reply
  2. Name2

    Like the tweens in those pix, Paul R. is hanging all his dreams on Taylor Swift.

    It’s actually kind of sweet. And not creepy at all.

    Reply
  3. dude

    Yes I do have a question actually

    Do you know what the difference between correlation and causation is?

    Reply
    • agraham999

      Actually that isn’t entirely accurate. Kobalt is reporting that for their own songwriters…and Kobalt operates a bit differently. It isn’t a blanket across the whole industry. What you might also consider is that those increases are not increases overall…remember they come at the expense of sales in iTunes…go look at the chart…it isn’t increasing revenue overall, just cannibalizing it from another source.

      So not really a reason yet to cheer and proclaim victory. In order for streaming to succeed they first have to create a business that is sustainable for themselves, not simply how much money they return to the music industry.

      Reply
    • GGG

      Not really much to say. I’ve never been against megastars windowing. They’d be stupid not to.

      My only real issue with this whole thing is that TS might be a bad act for anti-streamers to get behind, at least if they are championing indie/smaller acts rights in the process. TS is likely just working on some huge deal to license to the highest bidder, in which case that doesn’t help anyone, since 99.9% of artists will never be able to do that. Certainly a good business move to get buckets of money, but doesn’t really help raise payouts for developing acts.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        “TS is likely just working on some huge deal to license to the highest bidder”

        I don’t think this is about the money — I think it’s about self respect.

        Here’s what Swift said, according to The Independent (I’ll post the link in a comment below):

        “Music is changing so quickly and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment,” she told Yahoo, adding that she does not believe music is valueless and should be free.

        I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of this music.

        Swift insists she is “really open-minded” and wants to be “a part of progress”, but thinks Spotify is “taking the word ‘music’ out of the music industry”.

        “I felt like I was saying to my fans, ‘If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it and it’s theirs now and they don’t have to pay for it,” she said.

        “I didn’t like the perception that it was putting forth and so I decided to change the way I was doing things.”

        You may disagree, but I think she has done more for the music industry than anybody else in a long time.

        Reply
  4. jw

    The industry is ALWAYS looking for a scapegoat.

    The reality is that sales were in decline before Spotify existed, & they would be in decline if Spotify didn’t exist. If you really think that everyone removing their music from Spotify would solve the industry’s problems… I just really don’t know how you could come to that conclusion, because I know you’ve been following the decline of the industry for a long time. Except that maybe you’re just on this witch hunt because you feel that it’s what people want to hear, & you’re more interested in page views & private kudos than you are reporting the truth or offering any valuable commentary.

    You’re over the moon about a short term success story that offers no hope for the average artist or the industry as a whole. And you’re completely ignoring the 9 or 10 weeks of promotion leading up to wk 1. We know that Big Machine & Taylor’s camp did everything right in maximizing the impact of this record, & we know that the Spotify removal was just a small part of the campaign. So for you to act as if it’s the biggest part, or the determining factor for these album sales, is totally wrong of you. You’re framing this as if the Spotify removal was responsible for 600,000 sales, which is totally absurd.

    Reply
    • agraham999

      “The industry is ALWAYS looking for a scapegoat.”

      Who makes up the “industry” that you are referring to? That’s a broad brush.

      “The reality is that sales were in decline before Spotify existed”

      Physical sales were down, but digital sales were climbing. There is correlation between streaming popularity and digital sales declining. Most of the people streaming are not paying customers, but on free platforms. That’s a problem.

      “& they would be in decline if Spotify didn’t exist.”

      Evidence is to the contrary.

      “You’re over the moon about a short term success story that offers no hope for the average artist or the industry as a whole.”

      In a world where everyone is telling artists they have to utilize everything they can to maximize their earnings, I don’t see why pointing to this as a successful strategy for one particular type of artist is a bad thing. In fact even for artists with a small but dedicated fan base, windowing could be a very smart strategy and it is worth watching this and supporting it if it helps.

      “And you’re completely ignoring the 9 or 10 weeks of promotion leading up to wk 1.”

      You mean the weeks where anyone could stream her track on Spotify? So in effect people got what they wanted (to listen to her track for nothing), and she got paid to promote her song through Spotify and generate interest in her past catalogue of work.

      And how about this week where every male journalist wrote article after article of how stupid and vapid she is, giving her more free promotion all the way to #1 with record sales. She’s trending like crazy.

      “We know that Big Machine & Taylor’s camp did everything right in maximizing the impact of this record, & we know that the Spotify removal was just a small part of the campaign. So for you to act as if it’s the biggest part, or the determining factor for these album sales, is totally wrong of you. You’re framing this as if the Spotify removal was responsible for 600,000 sales, which is totally absurd.”

      I guess we’ll never know because the tracks were removed and we couldn’t really see if it Spotify would cannibalize sales or if this was a factor. Although if you look at Spotify’s own numbers on her play count, you can see there was great demand and those plays could be converted to sales…which is the gamble they took. I’m sure they watch their numbers carefully and they knew that even with massive play on Spotify, there was a better opportunity here with sales.

      I can’t speak for Paul’s point, but I can say this is a perfect example of how we might see windowing working in a streaming world where the majority of people aren’t paying anything to listen to music. It works for movies with Netflix…so why not musicians?

      Reply
      • jw

        When I say “industry,” I mean the players who have driven this ship into the ground over the last 15 years, & those who would parrot their talking points. Everything is driven by fear & resistance. Technological evolution is not an inconvenience, it’s a reality, & those that have refused to acknowledge that have presided over the recorded music industry’s collapse. My problem with all of this is that there has been very, very, very little proactive energy towards fixing the problem. Spotify was barely allowed to launch in the U.S., years after it should have, & after giving absolutely absurd concessions to the labels. But what choice did they have?

        So good for Taylor. She’s getting hers in the midst of a really fucked up digital music landscape. But this article doesn’t concede that Taylor’s strategy doesn’t scale, & doesn’t take into account the larger picture.

        >> “& they would be in decline if Spotify didn’t exist.”
        >> Evidence is to the contrary.

        No it’s not. Digital sales plateaued before Spotify launched. Why do you think digital downloads recovered other than discovery spurred by streaming? You can only speculate what digital sales would’ve been without streaming, but the obvious interpretation of the data is that they had plateaued & were about to start their decline.

        >> In a world where everyone is telling artists they have to utilize
        >> everything they can to maximize their earnings, I don’t see why
        >> pointing to this as a successful strategy for one particular type
        >> of artist is a bad thing. In fact even for artists with a small but
        >> dedicated fan base, windowing could be a very smart strategy
        >> and it is worth watching this and supporting it if it helps.

        Sure, & I’ve given her all the credit that she’s due, & I don’t necessarily decry her for it. But Paul is using this very specific situation & trying to extrapolate or insinuate things that aren’t there. If Paul was addressing the nuances here, & the specifics, it would be fine. But “Any questions?” is just unbelievably irresponsible.

        Ultimately, this comes down to… are we trying to maximize sales for corporate-backed individuals, or grow the industry as a whole? I mean, let’s be honest here. This isn’t a win for the little guy. This is a win for Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Beyonce, etc. Most artists aren’t & never will be that caliber. So when these artists… wildly successful, millionaire artists, have a huge personal win at the expense of, or at least outside of the context of greater music industry growth, is that REALLY something to celebrate? Certainly, this bad press for Spotify comes at the expense of every artist who isn’t going reach that elite tier of the industry. So what does that mean for this potential new industry, where the casual fan is monetized en masse, & more artists are able to make a sustainable living? We can all, in unison, say, “Streaming, as it currently stands, does not work.” But it seems like people are divided into two camps… one sees the potential of streaming & wants it to get there. And another doesn’t want it to get there. I don’t think this story is necessarily a justification of the latter, the way that Paul seems to be presenting it.

        Personally, I could care less about the chart toppers. I’m much more concerned with the thriving indie scene, & what this means for all of the acts that I actually care about & listen to, & how this affects their ability to survive.

        Reply
    • FarePlay

      As they say in the beginning of the artists’ rights documentary, Unsound: ‘the music business has always been screwed up, now it’s really screwed up’. To JW’s point the music business has been in decline for fifteen years and Spotify is painfully accelerating that process.

      And this is a major story, not just an attempt at page views. And what about your own part in all of this?

      The worst thing that streaming has done was offering FREE as an endless option. Free and valueless have become synonymous. Why pay when I can find it somewhere for free?

      It didn’t have to be that way. They could have created a real business by requiring paid subscriptions after a trial, providing a significant library without having every title and having paid download options for new releases. Sound like Netflix?

      Clearly, our inability to get more control over online piracy has hobbled the industry and will only to start to clear up once the Safe Harbor Loophole is eliminated. I say, start to clear up, because piracy will always be there, but in the future better defined as the crime it is with real consequences, jail time, one would hope.

      Reply
      • jw

        You know chemo makes things worse before it makes things better. Have you considered that?

        And “my part?” You’re going to have to be more specific there. I hope this isn’t another of your tinfoil hat theories.

        >> It didn’t have to be that way. They could have created
        >> a real business by requiring paid subscriptions after a
        >> trial, providing a significant library without having every
        >> title and having paid download options for new
        >> releases. Sound like Netflix?

        You’re right, it didn’t. A tiered sales platform could’ve launched as early as 2003, but the major artists & the labels didn’t want revenue spread so thin, & they were attached to the $.99 per model. The industry wants you listening to Top 40… they want huge profit margins on superstar releases. They don’t want democratized, access-based models. And by the time they allowed Spotify to launch, music piracy was so entrenched in youth culture that there wasn’t an option except to launch an ad-supported option. Things could be different even if they had launched in 2008. But the blame doesn’t fall on Spotify here.

        I mean, the goal was never to make another Rhapsody. They’re trying to transform a collapsing industry. They’re trying to, ultimately, revive growth. Ultimately, they’re trying to tame mass consumer behavior, & align the consumption habits of multiple generations.

        Reply
        • FarePlay

          Ah, the piracy canard. Piracy created the opportunity for Spotify to exist and it doesn’t take much research to identify the connection between the failed Napster model and Spotify. Even the principals, including Ek, come from the piracy culture. This isn’t conjecture or opinion. This is fact.

          You talk about more effectively stifling piracy and how that will make a difference. You are right, but this will come from finally eliminating Safe Harbor and putting white collar criminals in jail, for awhile. What will save music is the ability of artists to control the destiny their work. Something they can do with storage locker based services like Spotify.

          If you’re signed to a label that process is more difficult.

          Reply
  5. franky

    “Any questions?”

    yes! why do you post taylor swift sales? a b*tch who only sells to stupid american kids?

    Reply
    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      I find that these types of comments typically come from men who are frustrated by women, specifically those women who ignore them or show little interest in them (or display a level of independence, success or self-direction that is threatening). Well, a woman can choose to be with a man based on whatever criteria she chooses, if she chooses to be with a man at all. Sorry you didn’t meet those criteria.

      If you feel threatened by women like Taylor Swift, you should go to therapy.

      Now, onto the rest of your vapid comment. I’m sorry 1989 doesn’t appeal to you. It’s not your demographic, and you’re not Taylor’s target (no pun intended). So you can call those people stupid, you can call Americans stupid, that’s your right, but what you’re witnessing is a singer that has very shrewdly connected with a powerful demographic, and figured out a way to maximize her revenues around that connection.

      Again, sorry if that frustrates you or doesn’t please you. This isn’t about you, though I hope you can engage in dialogue about the important industry issues this touches upon.

      Any further questions?

      Reply
      • adolf

        “If you feel threatened by women like Taylor Swift, you should go to therapy.”

        Lol. I just said nobody cares of her outside the states. Only (stupid) american teens.

        Also your link between the sales of “1989” and her empty spotify account are pure nonsense.

        Reply
        • Name2

          Take into account that it just takes a really long time for posts to appear sometimes.

          Reply
  6. dan

    Paul really curious as to what your argument is here:

    Taylor Swift, Mumford & Sons and Radiohead keep their album off of Spotify. They release an album, the new york times, rolling stone and pitchfork all announce the album release. Album sales shoot through the roof… obviously. Their label and promotional team have connections to HUGE media outlets, they have MILLIONS of fans who already value their music as being worth $13.99.

    My band (8,000 fb fans) keep’s our album off of spotify. We release it, it gets picked up by a few local music blog and sells MAYBE 300 copies. As a result of keeping it off spotify, we’ve prevented ourselves from being discovered by the 40 million spotify users.

    Why in the world would we keep all of our music off of Spotify?

    Reply
    • GGG

      This is the dilemma that people that don’t work in this side of the industry don’t understand.

      Keeping your album off Spotify may certainly have caused a few people to buy it, but it may certainly have caused a lot more people to look for it on Spotify then give up. And since you sold about 300 copies, was that extra $1K short-term worth hiding your music from potentially a lot more? Up to you to decide.

      And even the first week argument being the most important, for bands at your size and that I work with, there’s little to know residual press after the fact unless you have a moderate hit and/or great story. It’s not like any meaningful amount of people will be talking about the album week 2, so windowing at that level is hiding it from the most amount of ears, as well.

      Reply
      • Name2

        This “one-week window” nonsense is another artifact of the old ways of doing business. A gimmick by and for millionaires who are jostling for a meaningless brass ring (Billboard placement). That someone wants to impose this mentality on a struggling band with 8k Facebook fans is just sad.

        One of the few ways an unheard band is ever going to get heard is via the social aspects and prediction algorithms of the streaming service. (Suggestions such as “Listeners who spun a lot of [megastar X] also listened to [this unknown].”; or custom “radio” built per-user on those principles.) The band should be encouraging streaming use (and info sharing) among the 300 who already bought the CD.

        Or would you have the 300 “call their local DJ” and request the song?

        Reply
          • Name2

            Because loyal fans can often be relied upon to “spread the word”. Radio is not a realistic avenue; “street teams” aren’t really a thing for everybody, so posterbills up all over every pole in town is probably not gonna happen. One of the few low-effort ways to spread the word is to utilize streaming and/or commerce business sites (Amazon) which take your history into account, and craft recommendations for newbies based upon history and activity and intersections.

            If 300 people bought my CD, I’d want them all to pack it away, and stream it on an intelligent service which will also notice the (presumably way more popular) acts those buyers also listen to or playlist together. if my 300 are hopelessly hip, and only stream the painfully obscure, then, yes, that’s a problem.

            “Listening in private is killing music!”

        • GGG

          Eh, it makes perfect sense at some point, though. Where that point is is up for debate because you can still have great numbers but be a relatively unknown band. For example, a band with 100K FB fans would probably benefit from windowing, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. But they are also not going to be very known in the grand scheme of things, so if they were getting decent press (which they most likely would be) it’d also be very beneficial to have the music readily streamable, both for exposure and monetizing that exposure. But at the same time, a band of that size would probably have press going into week 2-3 so windowing week 1 might still be fine.

          But will that work for a band with 75K likes? 50K? It’s still a crap shoot at those levels because you have fans obviously, but you’re still a long ways way from a solid career.

          Reply
          • Name2

            At those sub-100K levels, I don’t see why they can’t configure and stream an “EP” or “sampler” as a distinct title. It is, of course, preposterous to ask people to buy an album without hearing it. It is also preposterous to ask a band working at that level to give away the goods.

            Major turnoffs: A whole album on a service with most or all tracks dark for streaming.

    • Faza (TCM)

      @dan:

      Honest question: just how realistic do you think your band getting discovered by 40 million Spotify users is?

      Bear in mind that they’ve got other things to listen to whilst there than a band they’ve never heard of.

      Reply
    • Beyond

      I’m for Using Spotify and a song or two as bait to get fans interested in the band but make money by Windowing other song elsewhere.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      hey man, if she needs some troubleshooting for that carouselling problem, then she needs to step up and pay for it, no more of that fucking free shit up there from yall, its such a PITA!!!

      Justin Mayer

      Reply
    • Name2

      All you’d need to make this a political cartoon would be to emblazon the near-tears lady with the explanatory identifier: “the music biz”.

      Or maybe sync that Sarah M. song that’s in all those animal-rescue ads.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE TAYLOR SWIFT. I personally picked up three copies, just to support her!

    Reply
  8. Johnny G

    Streaming does not pay anything worth any mention ….. Taylor Swift proves it is only sales that can provide the dollar earnings in the overall and present music environment.Streaming hinders the entire business,it’s similar to giving out without all of your product for free taste tests , and everyone knows how everyone loves and wants everything that is …. f r e e !
    By adhering to these global corporate marketing scam systems, the music creators and artists only help destroy themselves and make a bunch of business people wealthy,who care little and have nothing at all to do with music, with stock investment trading markets! Stop streaming and demand far better wages,why should strangers be making money off of your backs,you are not slaves!

    Reply

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