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Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ Begins With a Bang


Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” is the first step of an elaborate marketing campaign for her Nov. 10 album, “Reputation.”

John Salangsang/Invision, via Associated Press

On Friday, Taylor Swift released a new song, “Look What You Made Me Do,” and thus, as the music industry tip sheet Hits put it, “launched the first ICBM in her fall offensive.”

The full assault will include a new album, “Reputation,” due Nov. 10, and a tour. The tools of the attack include videos, merchandise and a flotilla of corporate partnerships with the likes of Target and UPS (whose delivery trucks will be emblazoned with images of her).

The song’s initial numbers were predictably huge. On Friday, “Look What You Made Me Do” racked up 10.1 million streams around the world on Spotify, by far breaking its record for the most plays in a single day, the company said. (It seems like ages ago, doesn’t it, that Ms. Swift was publicly feuding with Spotify?) It was also the most played song on American radio stations, with 4,228 spins that day, according to Nielsen. The music video, released on Sunday night during MTV’s Video Music Awards, had 24 million views by noon on Monday. (Even the “lyric video,” featuring just the words to the song, broke records, had 19 million views in its first 24 hours, the best first-day total for that kind of video.)

Yet the brazenness of Ms. Swift’s marketing strategy has not gone unnoticed. To sell concert tickets, she is using Verified Fan, a new system from Ticketmaster that screens prospective buyers to block bots and scalpers; Bruce Springsteen, Harry Styles and “Hamilton” have all used it. But Ms. Swift is telling her fans that they can improve their chances of getting a ticket by buying more stuff and engaging in “boost activities,” like posting on social media. If all you want is the CD of “Reputation,” you can buy it from Ms. Swift’s site for $15, and for an additional $41 you can have it delivered on the day it comes out.

Some have called this exploitation, but so far Ms. Swift’s fans seem to have no problem: Early on Friday, her ticketing site was down from excessive traffic.

On Billboard’s album chart this week, the emo band Brand New — critically acclaimed a decade ago — opened at No. 1 with “Science Fiction,” its first new release in nine years. The album, released by the band on its own label, Procrastinate! Music Traitors, had 55,000 sales and a minuscule 4.4 million streams. (By comparison, the No. 2 album this week, Kodak Black’s “Project Baby 2,” had only 8,000 sales but almost 59 million streams.)

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