NEW YORK • Never doubt Taylor Swift. That is one lesson from the release last Friday of the singer's latest album, Reputation, which had a blockbuster start.
Through Sunday, it sold 925,000 copies in the United States, according to early data from Nielsen, which means that in just three days it has already had by far the best opening week of any album this year.
Of that total, just over 600,000 were digital downloads.
But the real question about Reputation was not whether it would be a hit, but just how big of a hit it would be and whether Swift would continue to defy the industry's collapsing sales trends by getting her fans to buy the full album as a CD or download.
To nudge her fans in that direction, she withheld it from streaming services and bundled copies of the CD with US$20 (S$27) magazines at Target.
Most aggressively, she told fans they could improve their chances of getting a concert ticket by buying multiple copies of the album - up to 13 counted as part of the promotion, and all weekend, she tweeted pictures of young fans with their hands full.
Nielsen senior analyst David Bakula said it was too soon to make a prediction about the week's total, noting that data from direct-to-fan purchases through Swift's website - or delivered on Taylor-branded UPS trucks - was not expected until later in the week.
But Reputation might very well equal or surpass the opening sales of her last album, 1989, which sold more than 1.2 million copies in its first week out in 2014.
"This shows that there are still artists out there where the album - the ownership of the complete package - is still the primary driver," he said.
Before Reputation takes over the chart next week, five new albums reached high on Billboard's latest Top 10.
They were led by British singer Sam Smith, whose new album, The Thrill Of It All, opened at No. 1 with 185,000 copies sold as a full album and 65 million streams.
Lite-soul band Maroon 5 came in second with Red Pill Blues, moving the equivalent of 122,000 sales.
Rapper Chris Brown's Heartbreak On A Full Moon retained its No. 3 spot.
Last week's top seller, country singer Kenny Chesney's Live In No Shoes Nation, fell to No. 6.