It’s official: Taylor Swift’s “Red” sold a whopping 1.208 million copies last week in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s more than any album has sold in a single week since 2002, when Eminem’s “The Eminem Show” sold 1.322 million in its first full week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
“Red” also easily debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, scoring Swift her third chart-topper.
“Red” is only the 18th album to sell a million units in a single week since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. Its start ranks as the eighth-biggest sales week in that span of time. The SoundScan-era record week is held by NSync’s “No Strings Attached,” when it debuted at No. 1 with 2.416 million in 2000.
Swift’s sizzling start is also the second-largest sales frame for a female artist. Only Britney Spears had a bigger week, when “Oops! . . . I Did It Again” sold 1.319 million in its debut in 2000.
As we projected last week, the blockbuster set marks the first album to move a million copies in a week since May of 2011, when Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” blasted in with 1.108 million in its No. 1 debut. However, “Red’s” number is a bit bigger than the 1.100 million that had been forecasted by industry sources.
“Red” also makes Swift the only woman to have two million-selling weeks since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. The country/pop star earlier earned a million week when her last studio release, 2010′s “Speak Now,” launched with 1.047 million.
Swift and her “Red” set were inescapable last week, following the album’s off-cycle release on Monday, Oct. 22. (Most albums bow on Tuesday each week.) The singer appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” (Oct. 22 and 23), CBS’ “The Late Show With David Letterman” (23), ABC’s “The View” (24), “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (25), ABC’s “Katie” and “20/20″ (26). Her album was available in locations such as Starbucks, Walgreens (where she had her own dedicated mini-store in each outlet) and Papa John’s Pizza.
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Further, Target scored the only deluxe version of “Red” with additional audio content (three bonus songs and three remixes), while the iTunes Store was the exclusive digital retailer of the title last week.
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Label sources indicate that iTunes sold nearly 465,000 copies of the album — a record sales week for an iTunes album. Target rang up around 396,000 on its own — again, a record for the retailer. Swift’s unique deal with Papa John’s yielded a meaty 8,000 copies of “Red.” While that number looks small compared to Target and iTunes, to put it in perspective, it’s almost half of the total “Red” CDs sold via Amazon.com. Papa John’s sold the CD for $13 and also as part of large one-topping pizza combo for $22. (Large single-topping pizzas on their own sell for $12.) Swift’s face was also plastered across the top of Papa John’s pizza boxes, so even if customers didn’t buy the album, they were certainly aware of it existing.
Impressively, “Red” was able to secure a million-selling week without any deep-discount sale pricing: The lowest that the album was advertised for among all major retailers last week was $9.99. That was the price point for the standard edition of the album at Target and Best Buy, while iTunes offered it for $14.99. Kmart and Walmart sold it for $12.99 and $13.99, respectively. Target touted its exclusive deluxe version for $14.99.
“Red’s” lack of low pricing stands in contrast to the last album that did a million in a week: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” That set’s 1.108 million first week was fueled partly by Amazon MP3 opting to sell the album for 99 cents on two separate days during its release week. (“Red,” however, was only available as a digital album via iTunes, leaving Amazon MP3 — and any possible discounting — out of the picture.)