Economy

Taylor Swift moving needle in America’s vinyl revolution

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(NewsNation) — Following a year when her Eras tour grossed $1.05 billion, Taylor Swift continues to move the needle not only on the music industry but on America’s vinyl revival.

The 34-year-old pop sensation sold 3.4 million records in the United States in 2023, according to data-tracking firm Luminate. Her vinyl sales grew to their highest levels after also pacing vinyl sales in 2022 as Swift’s 66-date tour drew 4.35 million fans and as Taylormania overtook the nation.

She’s expected to be front and center on Sunday at the Super Bowl, cheering on her boyfriend, tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs.


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Just as she has drawn new fans into NFL viewership, Swift is a driving force in how consumers purchase her music. After releasing her first LP in 2016, Swift has fully embraced the nation’s vinyl resurgence not only as a way of further monetizing her marketing genius, but as a way of deepening her connection with her loyal band of Swifties,

Swift tallied five of the 10 top-selling vinyl records in 2023, paced by 1989 (Taylor’s Version), which sold $693,000 in the first week alone after its release. Speak Now, Midnights and Folklore ranked second, third and fifth, respectively.

Swift represented 7% of U.S. record sales as one in every 15 records sold in the country last year was hers, Billboard reported.

Time Magazine’s 2023 Person Of The Year isn’t the first artist to make a dedicated push toward vinyl. But Swift’s worldwide appeal to a multi-generational fan base when it comes to her vinyl offerings has had more of a game-changing effect than any other musician in recent memory.

“There is a desire to have a physical artifact and I think for a lot of younger people, it’s like there is an actual connection to the artist,” Kyle Adams, an Indiana University associate professor of music theory said. “Even though it’s not obviously like Taylor Swift touched every album she puts out, but having that physical thing that connects them to the artist is really important.”

Vinyl part of the Taylor Swift brand

Swift’s appeal stems not only from her music, but her connection with audiences. That has bled into distribution of her music, including several albums she re-recorded to gain full ownership of her catalog.

Larry Wayte, a University of Oregon professor, wrote that the decision defines Swift as a “strong, independent woman” determined not to be victimized by the male-dominated music industry.


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Swift made sure her albums are a must-listen while also playing off of her genius as a marketing genius and savvy businesswoman.

Swift’s vinyl offerings are released in a variety of colors, including extra tracks and unique special features. Time magazine executives followed Swift’s lead by releasing three different-themed covers, which drew nearly 70,000 bundles of the physical magazine, including each variety.

Just as fans flocked to swallow up the magazine, marketing experts say offering multiple versions of the same album can add to the singer’s estimated $1.1 billion net worth.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 11: Taylor Swift attends “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” Concert Movie World Premiere at AMC The Grove 14 on October 11, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)Taylor Swift arrives at the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)Taylor Swift kisses Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce after an AFC Championship NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. The Kansas City Chiefs won 17-10. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Taylor Swift waves after the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)Taylor Swift arrives at the world premiere of the concert film “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” Oct. 11, 2023, at AMC The Grove 14 in Los Angeles.(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)Taylor Swift performs during “The Eras Tour” on Aug. 7, 2023, at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)FILE – Taylor Swift attends an in conversation with Taylor Swift event at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9, 2022. Swift’s latest album “Anti-Hero” released on Oct. 21. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)FILE – Taylor Swift performs at the Monumental stadium during her “Eras Tour” concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 9, 2023. Swift is adding one more accolade to her repertoire this year: a resolution recognizing 2023 as the Taylor Swift era in her home state of Pennsylvania. The resolution passed the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, Dec. 13. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)FILE – Taylor Swift performs at the Monumental stadium during her Eras Tour concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and singer Taylor Swift leave Arrowhead stadium after an NFL football game between the Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)FILE – Taylor Swift attends an in conversation with Taylor Swift event at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9, 2022. Swift’s latest album “Anti-Hero” released on Oct. 21. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)This cover image released by Republic Records shows “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift. (Republic Records via AP)FILE – Taylor Swift performs during “The Eras Tour” in Los Angeles on Aug. 7, 2023. Swift is releasing her “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert film on Oct. 13. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Adams — along with many other music listeners — insists music is better enjoyed on vinyl. The sound is deeper and richer, the music scholar says. Vinyl offers more spatial awareness and defined elements like bass and synthesizer than other music players, on which the same musical details tend to “flatten out.”

For younger listeners, though, Swift’s vinyl offerings aren’t as much about the music, but instead, about getting their hands on the actual album, according to Russ Crupnick, managing partner of MusicWatch, who says Swift’s impact on the industry has been “massive.”

The ‘Taylor Effect’ on the record industry

Artists including Harry Styles, BTS and Olivia Rodrigo led the recent resurgence of vinyl, especially among younger listeners.

But unlike “grizzly hardcore” vinyl lovers once enamored by bands like “The Beatles”, Crupnick says that Swift’s legion of “Swifties” are migrating to records for different reasons.

Besides playing the music, for Swift and others like Styles and Rodrigo, Crupnick says the records may be “…another piece of merch that brings them closer to their fans.”

“If I stream something from Taylor, that’s great – I get a great listening experience. But if I buy something from Taylor, that creates a whole different level of connection,” he said.

Adams is a 40-something father of two Swiftie daughters — ages 16 and 12. He’s watched his girls migrate toward vinyl. Listening to the vinyl option has created a “deeper” level of enjoyment for the girls, he said.


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The girls — who witnessed the Eras Tour in person with their parents — will sit for hours, soaking in a variety of music stylings that bounce between country, folk-Americana, pop, and even electronic dance. All of it, he says, is better in vinyl form.

Swift is “using her music, which does have a lot of standard lyrical themes, but she is allowing her audience to explore genres they might not otherwise explore,” Adams said.

Swift remains seemingly everywhere. Between the nearly 70 worldwide tour dates, her box office smash Eras Tour movie release and appearances inside NFL stadium luxury boxes, Swift said amid all of the craze, she discovered another measure of fulfillment.

“This is the proudest and happiest I’ve ever felt, and the most creatively fulfilled and free I’ve ever been,” Swift told Time magazine. “Ultimately, we can convolute it all we want, or try to overcomplicate it, but there’s only one question. ‘Are you not entertained?’”

Crupnick says he sees no end to the singer’s popularity or her ability to connect with fans in multiple ways. But her influence in both marketing herself and her music is also affecting how other artists respond within the industry.

Whether consumers are purchasing records for the musical quality or as another form of collectible merchandise, not only are the fans who consume everything the megastar puts out taking notice, but so are Swift’s fellow performers.

“If it were just Taylor, it would be great,” Crupnick said, “but because of the success, other artists kind of copy that.”

Entertainment

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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