Filed Under:

The Secret Genius Of Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift's new album sold more than a million copies in its first week — a rare feat these days. She did it partly by answering a surprisingly complicated question: What's the best way to sell an album?

There are so many ways to release your music these days. Itunes. Amazon. Radio. Walmart. Starbucks. Concerts. Streaming sites-- like Spotify, Rdio. Each artist picks from this toolbox in pursuit of one thing: making money. Something that is very hard to do when it's so easy to get music for free right now. And Taylor Swift picked expertly. As Paul Resnikoff, editor and founder of Digital Music News points out, she has picked off the shelf only the outlets that would give her the most money for every album sold: outlets that pushed a full album purchase. That first week, you could only get the record in a few key places: i-tunes, Walgreens, Walmart, Target. You could order a Papa Johns pizza and receive the CD-- at the sticker price of around 14 bucks.


But the tools Taylor DIDN'T choose are almost savvier than the ones she did. Because Taylor Swift did not release her singles on Spotify-- or any other streaming site. In order to be the first one in school with the album, as Taylor Swift's fans were wont to be, you had to pay full price for the privilege. Spotify pays the artist pennies on the dollar. Taylor Swift skipped it.

"Taylor already has so many fans, that she doesn't need to have that, like, incentive," superfan Lindsey Feinstein says. "Like, oh, listen to this, and then you'll buy it. She's past that level. People will literally just buy it."


Streaming music is more like an advertisement for the artist. It's a process of music discovery-- not necessarily music fandom. You build brand loyalty to the artist through streaming. Taylor Swift does not have a problem with brand loyalty. As Lindsey says-- she's past that.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Richard Trentlage, Oscar Mayer Weiner Song Writer, Dies At 87

In 1962, Richard Trentlage recorded an advertising jingle in his living room that began "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner..." He was no one-slogan wonder.
NPR

This Historian Wants You To Know The Real Story Of Southern Food

Michael Twitty wants credit given to the enslaved African-Americans who were part of Southern cuisine's creation. So he goes to places like Monticello to cook meals slaves would have eaten.
NPR

A Local Sheriff's Race Is Drawing National Attention And A Hefty Price Tag

One of the country's most expensive races for local office is in Arizona's Maricopa County where Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a noted opponent of illegal immigration, has the toughest challenge of his career.
NPR

The United Nations Is Launching A Space Mission

The U.N. is planning to send its first spacecraft into orbit, packed with scientific experiments from countries that can't afford their own space programs.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.