How Taylor Swift’s Recent Album Releases Tell a Story of the ‘Midnights’ Rollout

Taylor Swift has been a regular fixture at the top of the Billboard 200 since 2008, when she notched her first No. 1 album with Fearless. Since then, she’s continued to break records, rack up No. 1s — 10 so far — and score eye-popping first-week unit totals.

While it’s difficult to compare debut-week performances of any single artist’s albums over time — owed to changes in market conditions and music consumption patterns — it’s enlightening to take a look back at Swift’s last five charted releases, from 2019’s Lover through 2021’s Red [Taylor’s Version], and at what fueled their debuts on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The marketing and promotion techniques applied to those five releases likely informed the rollout plan of Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights, which arrived Friday (Oct. 21). It bowed on streaming services and via retailers in a plethora of options: as a digital album download, multiple CD and vinyl LP variants and a cassette tape.

Midnights is Swift’s first studio album since Evermore, in 2020. Since then, she released two re-recorded albums, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version), both in 2021. Five months prior Evermore, she released its sister project, Folklore, and in 2019, Lover.

Midnights arrives after months of pre-release promotion and pre-orders — but no music from the 13-track album was released until the album dropped in full. The set’s “Anti-Hero” garnered an official music video on Oct. 21 and is being promoted as its lead radio single. The album is available to purchase in a standard digital album (both clean and explicit), an iTunes-exclusive version with a bonus track (clean and explicit), four standard CD editions (each with a different cover, both clean and explicit), four vinyl LP editions (each with a different cover and colored vinyl) and a cassette tape.

Target also sold an exclusive “Lavender” edition of the album on CD and colored-vinyl LP, with the CD boasting three bonus tracks.

In addition, in the weeks leading up to release, Swift’s webstore sold pre-orders of signed copies of the four standard CD albums and the four standard vinyl LPs. Midnights was also available in deluxe boxed set with a CD edition of the album and a Swift-branded T-shirt, exclusively for Capital One cardholders.

Three hours after Midnights arrived, Swift issued a deluxe edition of the album with seven bonus songs (20 tracks total) to streaming services and digital retailers (with the latter including a digital liner notes booklet).

What else might Swift have up her sleeve during release week? As with most things in Swiftworld — only she knows for sure until it’s announced. What we do know — thanks to her sharing via social media – is that she’s slated to make an appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday (Oct. 24) and a second music video from the album will arrive on Tuesday (Oct. 25). Her social media calendar has also teased possible promotions or activations with Target on Saturday (Oct. 22) and independent record stores on Sunday.

Here’s a recap of the debut-week performances of Swift’s last five albums before Midnights and some of the marketing and promotional activations that fueled their arrivals on the chart.

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