Friday, December 11, 2020

‘Evermore’ Embraces ‘More Is More’ Release Strategy

For Taylor Swift fans, Christmas is coming early: Ms. Swift on Thursday announced her ninth studio album, “Evermore,” which is the second unexpected release of the year for one of music’s most notoriously meticulous pop stars, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Released just five months after her intimate Grammy-nominated blockbuster “Folklore,” the new album, which Ms. Swift describes as “folklore’s sister record,” features many of the same collaborators, including The National’s Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff and Bon Iver. That continuity suggests a collection of “Folklore” leftovers and more songs written in a similarly hushed and folksy indie-rock vein.

The quick arrival of “Evermore” reflects a reality of today’s streaming-music economy: More is more. 

Releasing more music makes sense for Ms. Swift’s business: Under her recent Universal Music Group record deal, she owns her new master recordings, which incentivizes more prodigious output. The more her new songs are streamed, the more they generate streaming royalties that fill her coffers. So far, “Folklore,” which Ms. Swift owns, has racked up 1.95 million in overall sales in the U.S., including copies of the full album and on-demand audio and video streams, according to MRC Data/Nielsen Music.

Record labels, for their part, are hungry for new releases in the streaming age and welcome more content. Over the past five years or so, the U.S. record business has been revitalized by revenue from music streaming on services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Much of what’s popular on streaming is music from the 21st century, not tunes from the 1960s and 1970s. Yet having a gusher of nonstop content can also create challenges when it comes to policing quality levels, music-industry observers say.

Ms. Swift’s announcement of “Evermore” arrived on the first night of Hanukkah and three days before her 31st birthday. “This time I thought I would give you something!” she said on social media. A music video for the album’s leadoff track, “Willow,” will drop Friday morning.

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