Taylor Swift delivered perhaps the biggest surprise of 2020 in the music industry when she announced her new album Folklore with just one day’s notice. While other superstars have used the surprise strategy before, it’s unveiling was completely unlike anything the former country star had done before, and her fans have responded by streaming the 16 songs featured on the set non-stop ever since they were first released less than a week ago.
While it’s only been a few days since Folklore arrived, the set is outperforming Swift’s previous set Lover, and though no singles were promoted before the full-length dropped, a number of the cuts racked up bigger streaming sums when they first appeared than any of the intensely-hyped singles from her last project.
When Swift kicked off her Lover era with the upbeat single “Me!” last spring, it was a massive moment in the music industry. The track debuted at No. 1 on Spotify’s U.S. charts with 3.578 million plays. That’s a very healthy sum, but three tracks from Folklore did even better on their first day, including “The 1,” which is first on the set, and thus it earned the most plays, at least as fans began listening for the first time. That track also opened at No. 1 on the U.S.-only list of the most-played tracks, only it beat “Me!” by almost exactly 600,000 streams.
Second Lover single “You Need To Calm Down” launched with 2.46 million Spotify streams on its first day last summer. In comparison, nine Folklore songs hit that mark this past Friday.
The third Lover launch, its title track, performed the worst of all the singles, as it started off with just 1.85 million streams the day fans could first press play on that tune (August 16, 2019). All but one of the tunes featured on Folklore racked up more streams upon their arrival late last week.
What this all means is that with almost no proper promotion and very little warning, many of the songs featured on Swift’s new album have been performing better on Spotify than the singles from her last album did, even though those Lover cuts were supported by ad campaigns and a media flurry.
There are a number of possible explanations for this phenomenon, but the simplest seems to be that fans were so excited about Folklore they rushed to stream it…and they continue to go back for more, as clearly there is a sizable audience who is enjoying what they are hearing.