I’ve been enjoying that tiny, but significant, uptick in overall album sales the last two weeks. After Taylor Swift‘s 1989 came out, they’ve been down just 13 percent, slightly better than the 14 percent that’s marked sales for most of this year. So, congratulations, record industry! (Even though track sales are still down 13 percent.)
ALL TAYLOR, ALL THE TIME: Did Taylor Swift’s abrupt yanking of 1989 from Spotify last week affect her long-term record sales? I keep asking that question, and nobody seems to know for sure. The album’s sales decreased in its second week by 69 percent, with 402,000 copies, after setting a 2014 single-week record of 1.287 million. That’s a big drop, but it really isn’t bad, considering stars from Coldplay to Eric Church have struggled to maintain their sales after a big first week. It’s also an improvement on Swift’s previous albums — 2012’s Red sold 1.21 million in its first week and 344,000 in its second, and 2010’s Speak Now sold 1.047 million, then 320,000, according to Billboard. For those albums, Swift used a “windowing” strategy, waiting to post them on Spotify until months after release. But the rest of her catalog was still available on Spotify, unlike now.
AND WHAT OF ALL THOSE OTHER ALBUMS?: Swift or no Swift, it’s a little weird that so few potential hit albums are coming out with just 16 more shopping days until Black Friday. I understand the argument that nobody wants to compete with 1989, but this isn’t the movie business — a big album traditionally draws people into stores, even an online store like iTunes, and these people wind up buying additional stuff. Nonetheless, Bette Midler‘s It’s the Girls (Number Three, 40,000 sales) and Calvin Harris‘ Motion (Number Five, 35,000) are the only debuts in the Top 10 this week. So much for breadth.
WHO GUESSED A “SAM SMITH” WOULD BE ONE OF 2014’S BIGGEST STARS?: Sam Smith‘s In the Lonely Hour is making a case for Resilient Album of 2014, if not hottest album of the year (a designation clearly belonging to you-know-who). The crooner’s album returns to the Top 10, selling 27,000 copies (an increase of 2 percent) and landing at Number Eight. And his single “I’m Not the Only One” sold more than 84,000 copies, an increase of 20 percent that helped the singer jump from Number 11 to Number Seven.