Monday, July 15, 2024

Taylor Swift’s “1989” has remained in the Top 20 of Billboard’s album chart for a long time. Filled with some of Swift’s biggest pop hits like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space,” the album was a huge success upon its release in 2014. This year, Swift has been performing songs from the album on her record-breaking Eras Tour.

However, “1989” is about to drop significantly on the chart. On Friday, Swift will release “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” the latest installment in her project to rerecord her first six studio albums. What started as an effort to reclaim her music and potentially seek revenge after the sale of her former record label has turned into a blockbuster enterprise, with negative consequences for the original recordings.

“1989” will be Swift’s fourth remake, and each one has debuted at No. 1 with increasing success. In early 2021, “Fearless” started with the equivalent of 291,000 sales in the United States. “Red” had 605,000 sales later that year, including a 10-minute extended version of the song “All Too Well.” In July, “Speak Now” had 716,000 sales, with an impressive 268,500 copies sold on vinyl LP.

Each album release has come with deluxe packaging, various colored vinyl variants, and a collection of bonus tracks. Swift has also released thematic merchandise. Notably, she is selling a sweater decorated with sea gulls (matching the new album cover) for $74.89 and an old-fashioned View-Master-like device for $19.89.

The potential success of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is uncertain, and Swift’s label, Republic Records, has declined to provide any projections. However, considering the previous remakes’ trajectory, the enduring popularity of the original album’s songs, and Swift’s omnipresence in popular culture this year, the music industry is anticipating a massive debut. This year has already seen major album releases by Morgan Wallen, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, and Travis Scott, but Swift’s new release is expected to make a significant impact.

Since announcing “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” in August, Swift has been generating buzz and anticipation. She partnered with Google for an online puzzle that revealed clues about the album’s bonus tracks, resulting in a crash due to high demand.

When Swift first mentioned her plans to rerecord her albums in 2019, the music industry was skeptical, as previous attempts had little success. However, the release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” proved Swift’s ability to rally her fan base and generate excitement.

Swift’s world tour, expected to earn over $1 billion in ticket sales, has also contributed to the popularity of her entire catalog, including the original albums. At different times this year, at least 10 of her albums, both original and rerecorded versions, have appeared in the Billboard 200.

Nevertheless, each time Swift releases a rerecorded album, the corresponding original version experiences a decline. Luminate, the tracking service that supplies data for Billboard’s charts, reported a 20% decrease in sales for the original “Fearless” in the year following the release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” Similarly, the original “Red” experienced a 45% drop. Neither album has appeared on the Billboard 200 since 2021.

Jaime Marconette from Luminate highlighted the significant impact this has on a weekly basis. When Swift announced the release of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” the original album saw a 75.7% increase in total consumption. However, after the release of the rerecorded version, the original experienced a 59% decline within a 14-week period.

These statistics raise questions about the value of Shamrock’s investment, estimated at over $300 million. In the short term, Swift’s rerecordings have had a substantial negative impact on the originals. However, it will take time to determine the lasting consequences. Shamrock declined to comment on the matter.

Swift is expected to earn more money from her new recordings than the old ones due to a deal she negotiated with Universal Music, Republic’s parent company, granting her ownership rights over her music.

As the release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” approaches, Swift has been actively promoting it on social media. She recently shared an image of handwritten lyrics, which fans believe to be from an unreleased track. Vinyl and CD copies of the album have been delivered to physical stores.

Even independent record shops expect significant sales from the new “1989,” as they have with Swift’s previous releases. Carl Mello from Newbury Comics, a chain with 30 stores in the Northeast, noted that past supply chain issues have been resolved, and they expect to have around 1,600 copies of the album available on release day.

Mello emphasized the unprecedented success Swift has achieved in occupying multiple spots on their Top 40 vinyl records list for months on end. He estimated that Swift’s vinyl sales constitute about 15% of their total.

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