Since Nielsen/SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991, only 13 albums have sold more copies in any one week. Swift’s strong showing is all the more impressive because the environment for album sales is much worse than it was a decade ago, when many of these other albums were released.
What do this week’s chart results tell us about the vitality of the music industry? There are two ways to look at it. On the plus side, all the pundits who have pronouncing the album dead for the past few years will be forced to admit that phenomenal sales are still possible. On the down side, Swift’s album sold more copies than the next 61 albums on this week’s Billboard 200 combined. (That may be the most depressing sentence I have ever written.)