Taylor Swift has consistently topped the Billboard 200 since 2008, when she landed her first No. 1 album with Without fear. Since then, she’s continued to break records, racking up No. 1s – 10s so far – and scoring eye-popping first-week unit totals.
While it’s difficult to compare the first-week performance of a single artist’s albums over time — due to changing market conditions and music consumption patterns — it’s instructive to look back on Swift’s last five releases, starting in 2019. Lover until 2021 Red [Taylor’s Version]and what fueled their debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
The marketing and promotional techniques applied to these five releases likely informed the rollout plan for Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights, which arrived on Friday (October 21). It bowed on streaming services and via retailers in a plethora of options: as a digital album download, multiple CD and vinyl LP variations, and a cassette tape.
Midnights is Swift’s first studio album since Stillin 2020. She has since released two re-recorded albums, Fearless (Taylor version) and Red (Taylor’s version)both in 2021. Five months before Stillshe released her sister project, Folkloreand in 2019, Lover.
Midnights arrives after months of promotion and pre-orders ahead of release – but no music from the 13-track album was released until the album was fully released. The ensemble’s “Anti-Hero” got an official music video on October 21 and is being promoted as their first radio single. The album is available for purchase in a standard digital album (both clean and self-explanatory), an iTunes-exclusive version with a bonus track (clean and self-explanatory), four standard CD editions (each with a different cover, both clean and self-explanatory), four vinyl LP editions (each with a different cover and color vinyl), and a cassette.
Target also sold an exclusive “Lavender” edition of the album on colored vinyl CD and LP, with the CD including three bonus tracks.
Additionally, in the weeks leading up to the release, Swift’s online store sold pre-orders of signed copies of all four standard CD albums and four standard vinyl records. Midnights was also available in a deluxe box with a CD edition of the album and a Swift-branded t-shirt, exclusively for Capital One cardholders.
three hours later Midnights arrived, Swift released a deluxe edition of the album with seven bonus songs (20 tracks in total) to streaming services and digital retailers (the latter including a digital score booklet).
What else might Swift have up her sleeve during release week? As with most things in Swiftworld – only she knows for sure until she’s announced. What we do know – thanks to her sharing via social media – is that she should make an appearance on NBC The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday (October 24) and a second music video for the album will arrive on Tuesday (October 25). His social media calendar also teased possible promotions or activations with Target on Saturday (October 22) and independent record stores on Sunday.
Here’s a recap of the first week performances of Swift’s last five albums before Midnights and some of the marketing and promotional activations that fueled their arrival on the card.