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Taylor Swift’s latest album has become the fastest selling in two years as it sold more than 2m copies globally in the week since its debut.
Reputation, the singer-songwriter’s sixth studio album, defied the broader industry trend towards streaming as it sold 1.29m copies in the US and 905,000 across other countries for the week ended November 16, according to Big Machine Records.
Ms Swift has kept the album off all streaming services, including Spotify — a tactic that probably helped boost sales when the traditional album format is in decline. The sales figures include physical sales, digital downloads and streams of the four songs she has made available to stream.
Blockbuster opening-week music sales have become a rare feat in the age of digital streaming. Only six albums in the past decade have achieved 1m traditional album sales in the first week in the US — four of them are from Swift.
Reputation’s numbers are similar to Swift’s previous album, 1989, which sold 1.29m in the US in its first week, and was also withheld from streaming.
At the time she called Spotify a “grand experiment”, telling Time Magazine that she wanted to make an album that’s “really an album-album”.
But in the three years since 1989, the music business has changed dramatically.
Spotify and Apple Music have convinced 100m people to pay for streaming, taking on a powerful position similar to the radio in determining popular music through their playlists. Streaming made up only 23 per cent of US music consumption in 2014; that figure has ballooned to 63 per cent, according to Nielsen, which tracks music sales.
Physical music sales and digital downloads have been shrinking for years, but a select few superstars, including Ms Swift and Adele, are able to convince millions of fans to pay. Adele’s 25, released in 2015, was withheld from streaming services for seven months and drew more than 3m in sales in its debut week.
Ms Swift promoted the album through partnerships with large companies such as Target, which offers the CD bundled with a print magazine of her poetry and art, and UPS, which put her face on its delivery trucks.
The year’s previous bestseller, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, sold 603,000 album-equivalent copies in its first week, and about a third of that came from streaming.
Ms Swift has not determined when to make Reputation available to stream, according to people familiar with the matter. While Spotify helped market Reputation in the rollout of the album, adding her new songs to its influential playlists and featuring her on billboard signage, the company has since stopped promotion.
Reputation was released through Big Machine, the Nashville-based record label, and distributed through Vivendi-owned Universal Music, the world’s largest music company, which Goldman Sachs recently valued at $23.5bn.