Taylor Swift’s Album Debuts on CD, Not Streaming Services

Taylor Swift is releasing her sixth album, “Reputation,” on CD, rather than any streaming service, say sources, who suggest that the streaming “blackout” could last one or two weeks. Swift and her label Big Machine Records have declined to be more specific, but an initial streaming blackout would be in line with Swift’s last album, “1989,” which when it was released in 2014 took seven months to reach streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and others. Now, “1989” streaming sales dominate over downloads and CDs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “so far this year streaming is responsible for about 60 percent of music consumption in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, which measures sales and streams in units, rather than in dollars, and treats 1,500 streams as the equivalent of one album sale.”

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“Reputation” already has garnered 400,000 preorders for digital and physical copies, which Big Machine says is double that of “1989.” A big star like Swift can “receive as much as 20 percent of the proceeds from album sales … far more profitable than streaming, which generates royalties worth tiny fractions of a penny per listen.”

But streaming, even with micropayments, can add up. Nielsen says that, “last week, streaming accounted for 75 percent of total retail volume for ‘1989’.” To encourage CD sales, Swift has offered an incentive: “ordering a copy from her website can boost a buyer’s chances of securing tickets to her coming concert tour.”

Target says the album “has generated more preorders than any album before it, and expects the album to be its biggest music release of the season.” The retailer “is offering two different 72-page special-edition magazines featuring portraits, personal photos as well as poetry and paintings by Swift with each album purchase,” and expects many fans to purchase two copies to have both magazines.

On Friday, “the day of its release,” explains Quartz, “the record sold around 700,000 copies, according to reports from Nielsen Music and BuzzAngle. Given that pace, it is expected to sell 1.4 million copies in the U.S. alone by the end of its first week, which would make it 2017’s best-selling album.” It is currently available via retail outlets and online stores such as iTunes.

Swift’s music has not been available on Spotify because she “wanted her music to be available only to paying subscribers,” but in June this year, she “put her entire catalog on Spotify, including its free tier.”

Bloomberg reports that Swift is not alone in eschewing streaming services: “Beyonce only made her latest album, ‘Lemonade,’ available on one streaming provider, Tidal, which is co-owned by her husband Jay-Z” and “Adele shunned streaming for months after the release of ’25’ in 2015.”

Swift has been “one of the most vocal critics of streaming, saying in a column for WSJ that the services devalue music.”