Last month, Taylor Swift kept fans afloat with her first 12 AM album “Midnights,” her tenth and final studio album. Three hours later, the pop star—who tends to surprise fans—dropped seven more songs into a deluxe release called “Midnight (3 AM Edition)”.
It’s a massive, unheard of feat, experts told the Washington Post. Amid the changing music industry ecosystem in the era of streaming, this feat can only be accomplished by someone who brings to the table exactly what Swift does: solid stardom, a loyal fan base, a clever social media strategy, and a relentless marketing machine.
“This was just a really great album, and she’s one of the greatest music stars in the world,” said Steve Knober, Billboard’s overall editor. “I also flooded the area with different versions of the album and pushed everything out there in a week where there wasn’t a lot of competition from other artists. With this mix of things, you can’t go wrong.”
After tracking week from October 21 to October 27, “Midnights” now has the top 10 songs of all time on the chart – a record previously held by Drake’s 2021 album “Certified Lover Boy,” which had nine songs in the top 10 .
“Anti-Hero,” a song about Swift’s internal fights, topped the list with nearly 59.7 million broadcasts and 32 million radio impressions. It was followed by “Lavender Haze,” a great song about the glow of universal love, with 41.4 million streams, and “Maroon,” a track that revisits a failed relationship, with 37.6 million.
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To craft the charts, Billboard takes into account a large number of metrics that each carry different weights. These metrics include digital and physical sales, live broadcasts and broadcast impressions. But standards have changed over the years—particularly in the past decade, as streaming has become more of a revenue generator.
“Broadcasting has changed everything — not just the behavior of music consumption, but the way music is made, how albums are conceived and sequenced, and even the way songs are written and produced,” said Larry Miller, a professor of music in New York. The University’s Steinhardt School.
Big streaming companies like Spotify and Apple Music have made a huge amount of music available to a huge group of users who are increasingly turning away from buying physical copies – the former chart-tracking standard. But while streaming services have made it easier for people to play their favorite music on repeat, it has also increased the volume of songs and recordings streamable by an almost unlimited number of artists.
“What Taylor Swift has accomplished in this era, with 70,000 new tracks being released every day, is a tremendous achievement,” Miller said. “It really is a great historical achievement, even if anyone can guess correctly that it was destined to be one of the biggest albums of the year before it broke all those records.” According to some estimates, up to 100,000 tracks are uploaded to music streaming services every day.
Even before “Midnights” was scheduled to be released, the album’s success seemed predestined. For months, fans have been anticipating Swift’s other re-recorded albums—with many searching for Easter eggs that might refer to the “Taylor version” version of Speak Now or 1989. In what seemed like an absolute surprise, instead, Swift announced in August that she would be setting an entirely new record.
The artist doubled down on her creation for “A Journey Through Horror and Sweet Dreams” on social media, sharing evidence-packed clips with each of the track’s names for 13 consecutive nights. At midnight on October 21, Spotify crashed as fans flooded the app to listen for the first time to the new album. Swift has also released four different vinyl and CD versions of the album, as well as a Target exclusive edition.
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Taylor released different versions of the album, and she directly reached out to her huge fan base on social media and said, ‘Hey, it’s all available,’ and they all said, ‘Wow! Whatever she puts on, they are very loyal to her,” Knober said.
The various releases sold a whopping 1.4 million physical copies in their debut week – the most since Adele’s “25” sold in 2015. Of those, more than 500,000 came in vinyl sales, marking the largest single-week album sales since Luminate began tracking music sales in 1991.
“She is truly one of the few outstanding artists in music today who can cut between two worlds: the old-school world of radio play and physical albums, and the new-school world of live-streaming,” Nuber added.
For Swift, it looks like the number 10 is set to surpass 13 as her favorite lucky number.
“10 out of 10 from the Hot 100??? On my tenth album I wrote on “I’m in Chapels” Twitter.
Here is the top 10 list according to Billboard:
- “Against the hero”
- “Lavender Haze”
- “Snow on the Beach” feat. Lana Del Rey
- “Midnight Rain”
- “A question…?”
- “You’re on your own baby”
- “Watch S—“
Travis M. Andrews contributed to this report.