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"It’s amazing, especially since a large majority of sales have been for the deluxe version.”
—--Republic chieftain Monte Lipman

TAYLOR'S DELUXE SALES STORY

How America's Sweetheart and Her Label Sold Over 1.2m Without Sales Gimmicks
Taylor Swift’s mega-bow for Red has collected hosannas everywhere, and rightly so. But not enough notice has been paid to the fact that the superstar singer-songwriter and her team achieved this milestone without benefit of 99-cent, $2.99 or $3.99 sales, bundles or other gimmicks. Needless to say, we know from gimmicks.

This is a record that’s shattering a lot of records, so let’s get to those first. Red is the biggest first week, period, for an album since 2002 (when The Eminem Show exploded). It’s the #8 week-one seller in chart history and the second-biggest of all time for a female artist (Britney Spears' 2000 monster Oops ... is still #1). Swift is the only female artist and the fourth artist ever to chart back-to-back million-selling first weeks (we vaguely remember the other three, but we're a little baked right now. We'll get back to you.).

There are undoubtedly more milestones to be tracked, but let’s get to the sales specifics.

Swift’s 1.208 million first week consisted over 38% digital sales (the latter entirely via an iTunes exclusive with no preorders). In fact, Red has set a new worldwide iTunes record for first-week downloads. Four singles (one per week) were released as a countdown in the month leading up to the release--so the Complete My Album program on the Apple e-tail giant worked like layaway, with Swift’s rabid fanbase having plunked down a big chunk of the album price by street date.

Target offered two versions of the album, the standard at $9.99 and a deluxe with (three exclusive studio tracks and three exclusive remixes) for $14.99; the deluxe version oustold the standard by a 3-to-1 margin.

This merits mention in part because Lady Gaga’s 1.1m for Born This Way last year, while certainly nothing to sneeze at, achieved 40% of its total on the strength of a 99-cent blowout at Amazon, and Madonna netted over 50% of her 358k thanks to a Ticketmaster bundle.

Republic ruler Monte Lipman, though running on generator power from his home (UMG’s New York offices remain closed in Sandy’s wake), was happy to chime in on this happier kind of storm—and the hyper-efficient Big Machine that helped generate it. “It’s amazing,” he says, “especially since a large majority of sales have been for the deluxe version.”

“In addition to the phenomenal album Taylor delivered, Scott Borchetta and his team have been strategizing for a year now,” notes Lipman. “They’ve used innovative methods and what they’ve done is absolutely exceptional. The dynamic is that we support them at Top 40, but they are fiercely independent and competitive. This [sales achievement] is really them. By the way, do you know anyone who might be interested 235 slightly damp 'I Heart NY' T-shirts?”

Lipman also emphasizes Big Machine’s superb international campaign, resulting in Swift’s biggest ex-U.S. bow so far. Red debuted at #1 in the U.K. and has seen astronomical sales worldwide; it topped the iTunes charts in the U.K., Canada, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Ireland, Argentina, New Zealand, Ireland and Australia, among other distant lands.

In other news, Taylor Swift is real purdy. 

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