Taylor Swift’s replica 1989 surpasses sales of original album

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Taylor Swift’s replica of her album 1989 has sold nearly 1.7mn copies in the first week of its release, the pop star’s biggest hit yet in a multiyear project to regain ownership of her music after her catalogue was sold to a private equity group. 

With 1.65mn album-equivalent units sold in the week ending November 2, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is the biggest debut of Swift’s career, surpassing the 1.3mn in sales of the original album on its release in 2014, according to data provider Luminate.

It is the biggest first week for any album release since 2015. The tally includes streams, purchases of CDs and vinyl, and digital download sales.

After it was revealed in 2020 that investment fund Shamrock acquired the master recordings of her first six albums for $300mn, Swift announced that she would re-record the songs, a move that would “diminish the value of my old masters”. 1989 is the fourth album she has recreated and released in the past two years.

“I was born in 1989, reinvented for the first time in 2014. And a part of me was reclaimed in 2023 with the re-release of this album I love so dearly”, Swift said on October 27.

Blockbuster opening-week music sales have become a rare feat in the age of digital streaming. Over the past decade, only five albums have managed to sell 1mn copies in the first week of their release, four of which were Swift’s.

1989 was the fifth of six albums Swift made while still tied to her old record label, the Nashville-based Big Machine Records. It had been a big commercial hit in 2014 — at a time when the music industry was still decimated by piracy, with streaming not yet making up for the losses. 1989 (Taylor’s Version) arrives as US recorded music revenue has recovered substantially, powered by the rise of streaming.

It is unclear how much the re-recording of old albums will affect Shamrock’s investment. But the new versions are being streamed and purchased far more than the old ones, according to Luminate data.

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has sold about 627,000 album-equivalent units this year — almost triple the 226,000 units for the original Fearless album. The newer version of Red sold 884,000 units, while the original is around 214,000, Luminate said.

The strong showing for 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is a boost to Universal Music, the world’s largest record company, which distributes Swift’s work and takes a percentage of her sales. Universal last month reported revenue of €2.8bn in its most recent quarter, up 3 per cent from the prior year period.


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