The music industry is saved! That’s what record labels will exclaim, watching Taylor Swift‘s latest record ‘1989’ sales progress. But is it really so?
About three weeks ago an article on mxdwn concluded the fact that no album has crossed the platinum threshold in 2014. This year’s sales leaders – the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack (3.2 mil copies sold total), Beyonce’s self-titled album and Lorde’s ‘Pure Heroine’ (about 750k each) – all were released in 2013.
At the same time, against all expectations, ‘1989,’ praised by prettymuchamazing.com and criticized by nydailynews.com, with reserved reviews from Rolling Stone and NME, has ended up selling 1.287 million copies in its first week, according to Billboard. Thus, ‘1989’ first-week sales best any other album released in over a decade, since Eminem’s ‘The Eminem Show’ had 1.322 million first-week sales back in 2002, as mentioned by Spin.
As a matter of fact, all the dismay and unjustified expectations around record sales emerge every year out of the fact that record labels and distribution companies aren’t capable of accepting the fact they are not a ‘music industry’ anymore. The reason is simple – they stopped being the epicenter of music production and distribution, without prior demand for CDs in favor of using streaming services. Simultaneously, the streaming services like Spotify or Pandora have turned into key players of the music market.
In the present situation, Swift keeps maintaining tight control over the way fans access her music. Just as keeping her previous record, ‘Red,’ off Spotify back in 2012, ‘1989’ isn’t there either. Coincidentally, Beyonce’s self-titled album also isn’t streamed on Spotify, as reported by Time.
“It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is,” Swift wrote in a July-released Wall Street Journal article. “I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”
Thereby, making a physical record the only way to get her latest album, Taylor Swift prefers to fight piracy rather than earn money from music streaming the way the vast majority of artists do nowadays. That explains high sales figures, and ultimately is the legitimate success of a top notch pop artist rather than a dramatic sensation in the modern music industry.