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NEAR TRUTHS: A HEALTHY MARKET

FOLK MUSIC: Taylor Swift's folklore (on Monte Lipman’s Republic) smashed through all manner of records in the last week—notably earning stupendous streaming numbers on her way to the year’s biggest #1 debut. Indeed, she shattered the first-day streaming record for a female artist (80.6m) and lands on the chart with 844k. She also nabbed 175m streams on Spotify alone.

Tay’s domination of the streaming charts without commercial retail was a fresh spin on her marketplace impact. Lover bowed with 867k (with 40% from Target) and Reputation with 1.2m; only singles were available for streaming on Spotify during the latter’s first week, and its debut total was 98% from sales. The gorgeous and numerous D2C variations on the new album (and souvenir “Cardigan”) are a reminder of her skill at enticing fans to own as much as they can of everything she creates.

But what’s truly remarkable is that she accomplished this latest milestone not with a set of shiny, radio-ready pop jams but with an intimate, reflective and decidedly adult collection that fans, stans, sometime admirers and even indier-than-thou critics were listening to all the way through, multiple times. It’s certainly a document of the COVID-19 era, and we’re even hearing reports of alternative-loving dads bonding over the record in quarantine with their Swifty daughters. It’s a reminder that certain artists have an ability to bottle emotional dynamics in a way that simultaneously captures the moment and feels timeless. Taylor’s stunning, mature new work is a document of women’s empowerment in a time of cultural transition—and hugely resonant for her generation as it navigates a global pandemic and fights for systemic change.

HEALTHY MARKET: Tay’s giant follows Juice WRLD’s blockbuster two-week run at #1 and an April-July stretch that saw The Weeknd and Lil Baby occupy the top of the album chart. It looks as though the mighty unit movers are awakening from their slumber. Drake is due for a new album, along with rumblings of Travis Scott, J. Cole, BTS and Kendrick Lamar on the way. Whatever trepidation big acts may have harbored about releasing during the pandemic appears to have evaporated, which bodes well for a healthy market. We’ve hit a new streaming threshold with back-to-back weeks over 17 billion.

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