Rappers, your streaming numbers may be gigantic, but when it comes to the Billboard album chart they are no match for an autographed Taylor Swift CD placed on the counter of an indie record store.
Swift’s latest album, “Folklore,” is No. 1 for a fourth time with the equivalent of 101,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. It is the first album by a woman to spend its debut month in the top spot since Adele’s “25” at the end of 2015.
In its fourth week out, “Folklore” had relatively modest streaming numbers — 70 million clicks — that were easily bested by Pop Smoke’s “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon” (123 million) and Juice WRLD’s “Legends Never Die” (117 million), two posthumous albums by young rap stars.
But “Folklore” trounced those albums with its sales as a complete package, which carry much greater weight in Billboard’s chart formula. “Folklore” had 46,000 sales as a full album, while “Shoot for the Stars” had just 2,000 and landed at No. 2, and “Legends Never Die” sold 3,000 copies and is No. 3 (the deciding factor there was streaming numbers).
When releasing “Folklore,” Swift seemed to have pulled out all the stops by selling 17 physical versions of her album, including colored vinyl and variant artwork, which she initially sold only through her website. But when it came to Week 4, Swift still had one more ace to play: sending signed copies of the CD to small (and grateful) record shops around the country, which, naturally, sold them out instantly.
In its four weeks on sale, “Folklore” has had the equivalent of 1.2 million sales, including 758,000 copies sold as a full album.
Also this week, the Memphis rapper Young Dolph opens at No. 4 with “Rich Slave,” and the Broadway cast album of “Hamilton” is No. 5.