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Sales of Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ Intensify Streaming Debate

Taylor Swift hot 1989 Intensify Streaming Debate NYTimes com


Ms. Swift’s latest album, “1989,” released on Oct. 27, sold 1.287 million copies in the United States in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, sending it to the top of Billboard’s latest chart. It is Ms. Swift’s fourth No. 1 album.

The album has instantly become the best-selling new title so far this year, and its sales week was the biggest since Eminem’s “The Eminem Show” moved 1.322 million copies in 2002, a time when album sales over all were more than double what they are today. Ms. Swift, 24, is also the only act to have three albums each sell one million copies in a week, at least since SoundScan began tracking retail music sales in 1991.

Those rare accomplishments are being celebrated by a music world starved for good news. Yet “1989” has also taken center stage in the industry’s continuing policy wars over the value of streaming services like Spotify, which are growing quickly but have been frequent targets of complaints from artists over royalty rates.


The dispute with Spotify — whose pitch to subscribers is largely based on its ability to deliver the music people want to hear — appeared to have arisen from a disagreement over how her music would be offered there. Spotify has both free and paid tiers, and Ms. Swift and her label wanted access to her music restricted to its paid version, which provides higher royalty rates.

Spotify denied this request, so last week, Big Machine asked to have her entire catalog taken down, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions who were granted anonymity because the talks were private. In a statement this week, Spotify defended its business model and said that Ms. Swift was welcome to return.

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Spotify does not make sense for the biggest stars -- so Taylor Swift is smart in walking away.

She makes more money by not making her songs available there.

She doesn't need Spotify for exposure.

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