As you know, Taylor Swift’s new album, “Red,” which came out Monday, is on target to sell more than 1 million copies in its first week of release. Should it do so (it sold 500,000 copies in its first day), Swift will become the first female artist in Nielsen SoundScan’s 21-year history to have two albums sell more than a million copies in one week. Her third album, 2010’s “Speak Now,” also achieved that feat.
Swift and her label Big Machine have waged a campaign that did everything possible to ensure her success. Here’s what other artists and labels could learn from the marketing and promotion of “Red.”
1. Share with your fans... but not too much. Swift debuted a portion of a new song every Monday on “Good Morning America” for the five weeks prior to “Red’s” release and then fans could buy the song the next day on iTunes. But none of these songs were available on streaming services.
2. Sex doesn’t always sell. To Swift’s credit, she has enough clout to not make every video look like she just stepped out of a Maxim photo shoot. Though she shows plenty of leg, she is the most-clothed woman to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone in years, other than Adele. Usually, a woman has to be in some state of nudity or lingerie (with smartly placed hands, etc) to be on the cover. She has stayed true to her image and her own comfort level and her fans respond to that authenticity.
3.Even if you’re a superstar, you still have to put in the promo time. Swift is working it this week, appearing on “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “Letterman,” etc.. The only folks stumping harder than her this week are Obama and Romney
4. Not only did Big Machine decide not to allow streaming on Spotify and the other services upon “Red’s” release, the label only allowed iTunes to sell the album digitally the first week of release, according to Billboard. That’s because Big Machine has no control over how iTunes rivals Amazon or Google Play may price the album download and were afraid that the retailers may sell it for less than $3.49 as a loss leader. After Amazon sold Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” for 99 cents, Billboard changed its rules and will no longer count such deeply discounted album sales in their SoundScan figures for the first several weeks of an album’s release.
5. Most importantly, make an album that’s worth every cut. While I’m not in love with every song on “Red,” it is clear that every song got her total attention. There is no filler. She can easily go five singles deep here, but even the album cuts were crafted with great love and care.