Artists Are Selling ‘Signed’ Digital Album Downloads — What Does That Even Mean?

Taylor Swift and Doja Cat are among artists releasing digitally signed albums — essentially an album download that contains a signature on the virtual cover.

Earlier this year, when Taylor Swift‘s Evermore sold 102,000 vinyl copies in a week, setting a modern-era record, and drove the six-month-old album back to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, it had a secret weapon helping it along its way — digital sales.

On June 3, for one day only, Swift sold four digitally autographed versions with her signature scrawled across new album cover artwork from her direct-to-consumer webstore for $4.99 apiece. These copies — which also included a bonus dance remix of “Willow” — pushed the album’s overall digital sales to 21,000 for the week ending June 3 across all reporting retailers in the U.S. (up from 400 sold in the previous week), according to MRC Data, helping drive Evermore from No. 74 the week prior to No. 1 on the chart dated June 12. (The set scored three prior weeks at No. 1 in December 2020 into January.)

To be clear, Evermore had more than vinyl LPs and digital downloads aiding its sales that week. Evermore‘s CD sales were bolstered by the availability of CDs signed by Swift in her webstore (that went up for pre-order earlier in May) and at independent retailers. In the week ending June 3, Evermore sold 69,000 CD albums (up from 1,800 the previous week). But since then, the strategy of releasing digitally autographed album covers has picked up some steam among artists looking for a quick and relatively easy sales bump.

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