#0131: When a Music Artist Sells Over a Million Copies of Their Album in the First Week

People like to talk about how the music industry is in shambles.  They claim people aren’t buying music anymore, that there’s no point in releasing full albums since they’ll just download it for free, blah blah blah.

Personally, I think people just like to talk “doom and gloom” for reasons I can’t quite figure out yet.  Sure, music albums as a whole don’t sell like they used to; but, as I try to explain to people, part of the reason is because it’s not advertised or promoted in the same way it once was.

Whereas, in the past, music companies would push hard to promote their artists and their albums as whole pieces of work, it’s more profitable for them to focus on a music single, which can end up selling ringtones, licensing, and other things off ONE song.

Now me, being an artist, like to be a bit more optimistic.  I still believe that music artists CAN sell millions of records IF they are promoted in the right way.  If they are promoted as an artist who is only good for a couple of songs (thus indicating their album’s songs will have no meaningful connection to each other), that’s all they’re going to sell: a couple of song, and very few albums.

However, if an artist is promoted as one who is looking to sell a COMPLETE set of work (i.e. an album that is cohesive, and needs to be listened to as a whole to get a 360-degree view of that artist), they can, and will, be able to sell a lot of albums.

Perhaps there is no greater evidence of this than when artists are able to release an album that sells a MASSIVE amount of copies in the first week.  And, despite the doom and gloom of music forecasters, the majority of times this has happened has been within the past decade (ya know, during the “decline of selling music” era).

A quick listing of the artist who, since 2000, have sold over a million copies in their first week: N’sync (actually, they sold over 2.4 million the first week for their “No Strings Attached” album – perhaps we shouldn’t count them?); Britney Spears; Eminem; Backstreet Boys; Lil’ Wayne; 50 Cent; Jay-Z (his “Blueprint 2” was a double album – it sold over 500,000 copies the first week, but since it’s a double-disc set it counts)…

The most recent artist to do this is Taylor Swift.  This week, her new album, “Speak Now,” sold over 1.04 million copies in 7 days.  And the reason? The marketing for this album was INCREDIBLE. TV show appearances, surprise concerts… not to mention the whole “woe is me” pity she got from the incident at the VMAs last year with Kanye West – that alone carried well over into this new album cycle!

So fret not, music lovers and/or up-and-coming music artist.  You may hear people talk about how music sales are faulting, but as these million-plus-in-a-week artists prove, if you make the right kind of music and have the right kind of push, you can still be successful in the industry!

Ah, when a music artist sells over a million copies of their album in the first week… now THAT’S something to be thankful for!

– Aaron P. Taylor
1001thingstobethankfulfor@gmail.com

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