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Taylor Swift Debuts With 2.61 Million Units for ‘The Tortured Poets Department,’ the Best Number for Any Album in Nine Years

Taylor Swift‘s “The Tortured Poets Department” has lived up to its blockbuster potential and then some. Billboard reported Sunday that, per data provided by Luminate, the new release racked up 2.61 million album-equivalent units in its first week out — the best one-week figure for any album in nine years.

The last album to debut with a higher figure was Adele’s “25,” which bowed with 3.482 million in 2015, a number that is considered unrepeatable with the changes that have occurred in consumption since then.

The 2.61 million figure easily beats Swift’s previous best, which was 1.653 million units for “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” in its first week last October. Prior to that, her high-water mark had been “Midnights,” which bowed with 1.578 million in late 2022.

Swift also set a record for the highest streaming numbers ever in one week, with 891.37 million on-demand streams registered for the album. That’s about 150 million more than the previous record-holder, which was Drake’s “Scorpion,” which had 745.92 million streams in its debut week back in 2018, according to Luminate.

Swift flagged the news on her social media, along with the likelihood of the new material showing up in her European tour resumption in May, writing: “My mind is blown. I’m completely floored by the love you’ve shown this album. 2.6 million ARE YOU ACTUALLY SERIOUS?? Thank you for listening, streaming, and welcoming Tortured Poets into your life. Feeling completely overwhelmed. I was already so fired up to get back to the tour but you doing THIS?? May 9th can’t come soon enough.”

Prior to 2014, the Billboard 200 charts were based on pure album sales, but after that point, a new formula began using a mixture of sales and streaming data to come up with album-equivalent figures. Since that changeover a decade ago, six of the 10 top album debut figures have belonged to Swift, with Adele claiming two albums and Drake one in that contemporary top 10.

When it comes to the old-fashioned metric of pure sales, though, Swift is clearly the queen of those just as much as she is establishing herself as the streaming queen.

Streaming aside, “Poets Department” sold 1.914 million copies in its first week. That is the third-biggest sales figure for any album since SoundScan began collecting accurate sales data for the industry back in 1991. The only two albums that are on record as having sold more complete copies in a single week are Adele’s “25” (3.378 million in 2015) and *NSYNC’s “No Strings Attached” (2.416 million all the way back in 2000, before streaming existed).

 

Swift now has three albums on the list of the 10 best weekly sales figures in the modern (post-1991) era, with both versions of “1989” also on that list. (The “Taylor’s Version” update of the album last year bowed with 1.359 million copies sold, and the original “1989” came out of the gate with 1.287 million in pure sales in 2014.)

The new sales records don’t stop there. Billboard reports that “Tortured Poets” sold the most vinyl copies in a single week of any album in the modern (post-’91 era). The album is reported to have sold 859,000 double-LP copies on vinyl in its first week. That is significantly more than the previous record-holder, “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” which came out of the gate with 693,000 LP copies last fall.

Swift gave every advantage to the new album in both the streaming and sales arenas. Streaming was bolstered by a 31-song deluxe version of the album that was released to DSPs just two hours after the 16-song original came out on DSPs. Meanwhile, vinyl and CD copies (and even a cassette) were released in multiple variants with different cover art, packaging and bonus tracks, leading many fans to purchase multiple copies.

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