Taylor Swift attends the 46th annual CMA Awards on Nov. 1 in Nashville.
Taylor Swift’s last two albums sold more than a million copies in their first week. Her latest release, Red, made some additional history, too.
Swift’s new album sold 1.208 million copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, collecting the most single-week sales since 2002.
But with the current ubiquity of music piracy — and even legal streaming services such as Spotify — how did Swift move so many units? Hip-hop producer and Philadelphia resident Andre Dubose has a possible answer.
Dubose, who’s worked with several up-and-coming rappers in the Midwest and on the East Coast, said he thinks Swift’s music has an incredibly large target audience that includes parents.
“Those parents aren’t illegally downloading albums for those kids,” 20-year-old Dubose said.
But many college students are illegally downloading albums, and that’s not news to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
“Over the course of the past couple of years, as the technology to detect online theft has improved, we have sent an increased number of notices to universities,” according to the RIAA’s website.
But that hasn’t really stopped anybody. Millions of college students still illegally download music, and the piracy is detrimental to the music business.
Since file-sharing website Napster was founded in 1999, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 47%,according to the RIAA, and record companies are really suffering.
“It’s especially hard to make money off royalties,” Dubose said. “Jobs are being cut because artists can build their own buzz online and on Twitter. It cuts out the need for a major label.”
University of Minnesota junior Megan Ryan still buys almost all of her music and says it’s easier to buy music digitally than it is to illegally download it.
“For me, it’s a lot easier to just go on iTunes. I know it’s legit. I know it’s going to have good quality,” she said. “Yeah, you have to pay money, which sucks. But if you really like the music you’re listening to … you want to support the artists.”
So the Internet is facilitating some positives. It’s also forcing artists to become more self-sufficient in an effort to fight piracy.
Dubose said he does all his business via Twitter and rarely buys music anymore because many of his favorite artists give away music for free in an effort to build momentum for subsequent tours.
“You need to put out the best product to get that tour money. That’s how artists are making their money now, off these tours,” he said.
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