1989 is hitting milestones and breaking records.
Released on October 27, 2014, 1989 is the latest album from Taylor Swift. Along with marking the singer-songwriters official debut into purely pop music – a departure from her trademark country-pop style of previous albums – 1989 is the fifth studio album for the twenty-four year old. But the most noteworthy facts about Swift’s latest record have to do with sales: In its first week, 1989 sold 1,287,000 copies in the United States alone, the most in over 12 years when Eminem’s The Eminem Show sold 1.3 million copies that spring.
While much of Taylor Swift’s songs tell a story of love gone wrong, the success of 1989 tells a story of marketing done right.
In the era of digital downloads and piracy, Taylor Swift and her management team found a creative way to induce fans to race to the stores and shell out cash for a hard copy of 1989: incentives. Following the retro feel to the album, each physical copy of 1989 comes packed with a set of 13 imitation Polaroid photos that include hand-written lyrics at the bottom. In all, there are 65 Polaroids, or five sets of 13. This has led some super fans to purchase multiple albums to complete the collection.
Source: Shine On Media
When Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, even President Obama empathized with the down-to-earth 19-year old. Since then, she’s only managed to solidify her squeaky-clean image. Parents want to buy Swift album for their children and prefer that their daughters look up to her than some of the other chart-topping female singers. Of course, you don’t always need a good boy/girl image to sell albums. After all, the last album to sell more than 1989 in was The Eminem Show. But with anti-bullying movements gaining traction and positive messages of acceptance and self-empowerment striking a chord with today’s youth, the image that Swift has cultivated for herself is just right for 2014. Low-key surprise hospital visits, fun, self-depreciating music videos, and a heartfelt message of encouragement to a bullied fan all contribute to her pristine image.
Even though it’s already the best-selling album of 2014, there’s been an air of exclusivity surrounding the release of 1989. Swift carefully guarded her album against leaks, keeping the album-in-progress solely on her phone for over a year. Additionally, when the album finally hit stores, a deluxe edition, which included three extra songs and three voice memos documenting Swift’s song writing process, was sold exclusively at Target.
Engaging and interacting with fans has played a significant part in securing her image as friendly and genuine. And just about everything involving the release of 1989 has included a creative way to engage fans. The video for lead single “Shake It Off” features a slew of fans dancing with the singer; in August, Swift announced to the world the news of her latest album via live stream on Yahoo; and she even hosted “Secret Sessions” in her homes, offering a sneak peek of the album (and swanky digs) to a handful of fans.
With the exception of Spotify, Taylor Swift shies away from few engagement platforms. She’s held Skype and Twitter Q&A sessions and, as mentioned above, has live streamed with Yahoo. She interacts with fans on Instagram, and documents her travels through Tumblr. She charms on the talk show circuit and shares behind-the-scene videos to her YouTube page. Swift is one of the most adept superstars when it comes to multiplatform engagement and it’s paid dividends.
Her music may not be for everyone, but the marketing genius of Taylor Swift should not go unadmired. The alignment of her marketing message is a marvel: From including incentives to purchase a hard copy of 1989 to multiplatform engagement, every move is a carefully calculated one meant to increase fan loyalty. Few artists could manage to switch genres entirely and emerge unscathed the way Swift has as she’s transitioned from country darling to pop star and it’s thanks to her consistent marketing message and image.
There's certainly no blank space in her marketing strategy.