Pennsylvania-born Taylor Swift is one of the most successful artists of our time. Her tenth studio album, Midnights, was released in October without any major announcement, and as it was Taylor’s first new material in two years, it came with a lot of hype.
Midnights was released on October 21, to be precise, but fans got a taste of it the night before, during the third quarter of the Thursday Night Football game. “If you tune in to the Thursday Night Football game on Amazon Prime, you’ll get a sneak peek at my new secret project that I’ve been working really hard on for a very long time”, the actress said in a video posted on Twitter. The singer is at home in the business world, and it’s safe to say she’s very smart with her talents: Swift has an estimated net worth of $450 million, and during some of her touring years, she reportedly earned more than $150 million a year.
The new album may have disappointed some of her following with her last two indie-folk albums, but in the week of its release, Swift’s tenth album is shaping up to be her biggest hit to date, breaking numerous sales and streaming records, including the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Five years ago, Swift’s Reputation achieved its biggest-ever US sales week in terms of traditional album sales with 1.216 million copies sold. Midnights broke that record in just four days.
It’s not as if Swift’s previous albums hadn’t been a smash… Rather, her streaming numbers have grown steadily over the years as the streaming industry has gained market share among music listeners. Last year, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” reached 90.8 million streams on the day of its release, breaking Spotify’s record for the most streamed album by a female artist in a single day. She also beat herself at the time, with 78.7 million streams of Folklore. With Midnights, Swift broke her own record again, reaching 185 million streams on the day of release.
The success is also thanks to the singer’s return to social media. Her alienation from the platform dates back to 2016: Swift then disappeared from the public eye for a year after getting into a dispute with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in 2016. Not only did she stop appearing in public, but she also completely disconnected from social media. Her absence has come as a shock to fans, who have become accustomed to Swift logging on to Tumblr every night since the release of 1989 to connect with her fans. Swift’s social media presence then dwindled even further before the release of Reputation, when she deleted all her social media posts and had everyone unfollowed. Four days after that, the singer posted a video of a snake, which foreshadowed the release of her forthcoming album. When the Reputation era began, Swift gradually started posting again, but her former social media presence was much smaller. The surprise releases of Folklore and Evermore received hardly any social media posts from the star. Breaking her silence on Midnight, Swift made sure to keep the hype going in the seven weeks leading up to the album’s release, posting behind-the-scenes glimpses of the making of the album, all the way up to the evening’s “Midnights Mayhem With Me” TikTok, where she revealed the track titles one by one. The success at TikTok meant that Taylor was in touch with a Generation Z audience that she had largely missed out on. Gen Z was not on Tumblr or Twitter, two of Taylor’s previously preferred platforms. Another very smart move Camp Taylor made around the release of Midnights was perhaps the decision not to release any music – even excerpts – in advance.
Taylor Swift is perhaps one of the smartest marketers in the music world: she keeps her distance from her fans, but still makes them feel connected and creates a very effective dialogue with them time and time again.