Taylor Swift outgunned even the loftiest sales estimates to sell 1.208 million copies of her new album, Red, last week. That's the biggest chart debut since 2002, when Eminem’s The Eminem Show sold 1.322 million in its first week. Red is only the 18th album to sell a million copies in one week since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. These numbers also make Swift the second highest-selling female artist in that time, behind only Britney Spears for Oops!... I Did It Again, which sold 1.319 million copies in one week in 2000.
Some of Swift’s numbers might have come from unusual sources: She had retail tie-ins with usual suspects like Starbucks and Target, but she also sold her record through Papa John’s Pizza and Walgreens, where Swift had her own dedicated mini-stores in each location. Swift sold about 8,000 copies through Papa John’s, or about half of what she sold through Amazon. She was also featured on every single one of its pizza boxes, meaning that even if a customer didn’t buy the record, they sure knew it existed.
Swift also moved copies by keeping her record off streaming services like Spotify, forcing interested Swifties to actually go out and buy the damn thing. Perhaps most impressively, though, none of these sales came via bargain-basement pricing: The lowest her record sold for at retail was $9.99 at Target and Best Buy, while iTunes listed the record for a whopping $14.99.
Kendrick Lamar’s major-label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, came in at No. 2 on the charts with some decently big numbers of its own. The record sold 241,000 copies during its first week, earning Lamar the second-best sales week of any rapper in 2012. Only Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded sold more, racking up 253,000 copies its first week out.