Taylor Swift Sales Chain By Chain

By Ed Christman/ Billboard 11/03/10

Music merchants were waiting for a chance to pounce on a proven seller, after a tough year where many albums have not lived up to expectations. In fact, its been two years since they had a million seller in one week, since Lil’ Wayne did it back in 2008 with “Tha Carter III.”

And pounce they did. Here are some numbers for Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now,” according to sources: Target, 350,000 units; iTunes, 220,000 units; Walmart at about 190,000 units; Amazon and Costo, each at about 40,000 units; Best Buy at about 35,000 units; and Starbucks at about 28,000 units. The latter merchant is key in that it was one of a number of non-traditional retailers that did well for the album.

Hot Topic, which mainly carries hard rock records, sold about 5,000 units of the Swift Record. The album was also carried in Justice stores, which cater fashions to young girls, Rite Aid, and will shortly be in Radio Shack.

The Scholastic promotional event also produced plenty of pre-orders and sales through schools of the album, while iTunes and Amazon also had big pre-order campaigns too.

One final key factor in the album’s success: in setting an $18.98 list price for the album, Big Machine went against today’s conventional wisdom that albums need to be priced at $10. But it apparently wasn’t shy in cutting deals to get the pricing it needed for the physical CD.

However, it was digital that led the way on pricing this time out, and in that channel low pricing usually means that the retailers eat margin. So when 7digital priced the “Speak Now” album download at $4, Amazon beat it with the download at $3.99.

But apparently in order to avoid a wide pricing disparity between the download and the CD, that meant Amazon priced the physical format at $8 for the first three days of availability. And that move prompted Wal-Mart.com to match and beat Amazon, so in its first few days the CD album was priced at $7.78. Even J&R Music World got into the act, pricing the CD in-store and on its online store at $6.99.



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