Taylor has always been a sales force with her albums; her last three studio albums have each opened with over one million copies sold in the first week. Most recently, 2014’s 1989 opened with 1.3 million sold in its first week. Let’s break down the possibilities…
1989 lead up vs reputation lead up:
1989 was introduced by the 3x Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum, #1-debuting “Shake It Off.” “Shake It Off” is undoubtedly a bigger hit than “Look What You Made Me Do;” the former has more video views, a higher peak radio audience, more weeks in the top ten, higher sales. 1989 had the hype of being Taylor’s first pop album and an image and overall message that was relatable for everyone. reputation, on the other hand, was kicked off by the tepidly-received “Look What You Made Me Do,” and thus far, has a message that seems petty, self-important, and contrived in the landscape of 2017. The image overall is also much darker (i.e., snake teasers, darker hair, brooding album cover, black and white theme) than 1989‘s was at this point. On the positive side the video for “Look What You Made Me Do” is widely acclaimed.
As of now, Taylor has done no traditional television/radio promotion for neither the lead single nor the album. Leading up to the album release for 1989, Taylor had performed at the MTV VMAs, launched a Yahoo! live stream, released multiple promotional singles, and performed at the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the German Radio Awards. At present time, Taylor has been on a pseudo-media blackout and has only premiered the lead single for the video at the MTV VMAs. However, most UPS trucks have the album cover plastered on the side and a special Target edition including a magazine (featuring posters, lyrics, original poetry) was announced. The lack of media presence could hurt Taylor but the plethora of editions and exclusive versions could help boost sales.
When 1989 was released, Swift was staunchly anti-streaming and her music was not available on Spotify, etc. By the end of the era, Swift brokered a deal with Apple Music and her latest music was suddenly available on all streaming outlets. Finally, on the same night as Katy Perry’s Witness release, Taylor released her entire catalog on every streaming service. The lead single for reputation is currently on all streaming services, and if the album follows suit, whatever pure sales are lost to streams will be recuperated by the sheer amount of streams. This will be Swift’s first album where she can take full advantage of the TEA/SEA era, and it will only work to her advantage.
While Swift did not do a tour bundle (every ticket comes with a copy of the album included in the purchase) for 1989, it is not too late to announce one for reputation. Recently acts such as Metallica, Shania Twain, and PI!NK have seen great success with their first week numbers due to tour bundles. Taylor toured stadiums in the U.S. during her 1989 World Tour, so a tour bundle could greatly improve her first week total while simultaneously setting her up for a steep second-week drop.
I have no doubt Swift will cross the +1 million streaming-plus-sales mark. If she does a tour bundle I predict her pure sales will range from 1.25 million – 1.75 million; if there is no tour bundle and no further promotion before album release week, 950,000-1.15 million pure copies. If there is promotion and a strong new single before/during album release week, 1.275-1.35 million. We’ll just have to wait and see!