Pre-Selling Lessons For Writers From Release Of Taylor Swift’s Album 1989

Over the last couple of months I’ve been watching with interest the ‘pre-sell’ campaign for Taylor Swift’s upcoming album 1989. In fact, it launches on Monday the 27th October – the day that I publish this post.

And it’s been interesting to see the single Shake It Off used as the central pillar that this pre-selling campaign has been hung on – especially in conjunction with YouTube.

Let’s look at the campaign in more details.

Step 1 – Teasers

In early August Swift started the buzz amongst her fans by posting a video on instagram, tweeting a cryptic photo and tweeting an image of a Yahoo Home Page.

This led to Step 2.

Step 2 – Announce The Product

Swift announced the new album in a live stream – and at the end of the live stream announced that the album was available for pre-order and the official video for the single Shake It Off was published on YouTube.

This song is the lead song from the album – take a look at this screenshot where you can see the short description that’s been entered into the video:

taylor 2

Notice the offer there for Taylor fans: pre-order the album 1989 today and get the MP3 of the song immediately.

Now Swift has probably promoted the song with live appearances on various shows – I believe she appeared on The X Factor in the UK. And as well as promoting Shake It Off as a single, she also promoted the upcoming release of 1989. (Also check out the impressive number of views on the video….220 million!)

Step 3 – Additional Launch Content

On September 11th more content was released on Youtube. These were three “out-take” style videos where Swift is interviewed and talks about segments of the Shake It Off video featuring different styles of dancers.

If you check out the info on the screenshot, you’ll see the offer for fans who pre-order the album that we saw on the originl video. We’ll look at that pre-offer in a moment. Here’s the screenshot:

taylor 3


Step 4 – Additional Launch Content

Here’s how more launch content was sed:

September 16th – Outtake Video 4 published to YouTube

September 23rd – Outtake Video 5 published to YouTube

September 30 – Outtake Video 6 published to YouTube

October 7th – Outtake Video 7 Published to YouTube

October 14th – Outtake Video 8 Published to YouTube

Additionally on October 18th Swift added a further track as a download for pre-orders, a song called Out Of The Woods. And on October 20th a third song from the album was added as a download for pre-orders – Welcome To New York.

Don’t forget that all of these ‘static’ promotional activities were combined with personal appearances and interviews on chat shows, music shows and the like.

Let’s move on and examine the pre-sell offer.

The Pre-Sell Offer

There were two components to the Pre-Sell offer being used:

  1. Three different versions of the album available
  2. Entry in to a competition called the ‘Taylor Swiftstakes.’

Here’s a screenshot showing the pre-sell details and the three different product levels:

taylor pre-buy

And as well as getting one of the album versions on release date, fans who pre-purchased the album were also entered into a draw where there were 1,989 prizes to be won:

Taylor swiftstakes



Results Of The Pre-Sell

These results are UK results….and were taken on Sunday, 26th October prior to the official album release. First here’s a screenshot from iTunes in which you can see that the album is #5 on the iTunes chart:

taylor 6

And here’s a screenshot from Amazon showing that the album was #4 overall in Amazon’s music chart, and #2 in the ‘Pop Music’ bestseller list on Amazon:

taylor 5

On the morning of 27th October around 8 AM UK time I cross-checked the listing – and the album was #1 on the music chart. I just read on Wikipedia that Shake It Up also debuted in the US singles charts at #1.

I’ll update later this week with more results on various charts as well.

The Takeaways

I’ll post later in the week some thoughts on how some of the strategies that Swift used could be adapted for an info product (e.g. a course, or a book).

Here are the main takeaways from looking at this launch:

  1. The record company for (arguably) the biggest female singer in the world currently used a comprehensive pre-sell strategy for an eagerly awaited new album from a singer with a big fan base. And this started two and a half months before the album’s release.
  2. Notice the progression from teaser announcements, to unveiling of the upcoming product (the album) and the use of an excerpt (the single) to build the launch campaign around.
  3. This one isn’t specifically spelled out in the information above – but 1989 represents a shift from ‘country’ to ‘pop’ by Taylor Swift. And to forestall objections to this, in interviews Swift talks about this switch plus Shake It Off is about her reaction to other people’s reactions. This is about killing objections in two ways – by talking about it, and by showing the ‘new’ style in the single. (Additionally the single/album was produced and co-written with a songwriting team who worked on songs on the last Swift album – so emphasizing continuity to help bring fans to the new album who might be put off by talk of ‘going pop.’)
  4. Another point not specifically spelled out above – on all the pre-sell pages there are social media buttons to help her fans share details of the pre-sell itself and of the competition. And hopefully to create buzz.
  5. Use of different social media channels ranging from Instagram to Youtube to a live stream on Yahoo and all the personal appearances on conventional TV.


In this post we’ve looked at the pre-launch for Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.

And it’s instructive to note that the album released today, October 27th, but that the pre-sell started in early August.

The pre-sell was cleverly built around the first single off the album – Shake It Off.  Different forms of media were released as well as lots of personal appearances.  And the results have been impressive – the single debuted in the US Chart at #1 and early on the day of official release it was #1 on Amazon.

Later in the week we’ll look at some ways we could model some of what has been done with this launch and see how we could apply them to a conventional info product.

3 Ways Non Fiction Writers And Bloggers Can Generate Content Ideas

This article is about strategies you can use when you know you need to write content, but you are not sure what you’re going to write about.

These strategies can be used to generate content at any time. But they can be especially helpful when you’re facing the blank page and your article bank is depleted.

Strategy 1 - The Expanded List Post

List posts are very popular forms of content. They generally rank well in search engine results, people like to read them, and they often get shared around on Twitter, Facebook and the look.

We can take advantage of all that – and at the same time use the concept of a list posts to generate some new content and ideas.

Here’s how it works.

[Read more...]

A Productivity Tip For Writers – The 500 Club

This lesson is about a ‘productivity’ tip that I stumbled upon this week that I’ve started using and it’s really helping me.

So What’s The 500 Club?

I came across this concept and the term on the website of a writer and writing teacher called Randy Ingermanson.

Ingermanson talks about one of the biggest problems writers have is having a bottleneck in producing first draft copy – or in laymen’s terms getting words on paper.

His solution is to join ‘the 500 Club.’

How Do You Join The 500 Club? And What Are The Benefits?

There’s no real club called The 500 Club – though maybe there should be. Instead it’s an idea – and what you do is you commit to writing 500 words a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  And so on.

If you did that, you’d produce approximately 180,000 words a year.

[Read more...]

8 Lessons For Kindle Book Publishers From Modelling Steve Scott

When One Spoon went on hiatus nearly two years ago I unsubscribed from most of the marketing type lists that I used to be subscribed too. There were only two I didn’t unsubscribe from. One of the two lists that I remained subscribed to was Steve Scott from (The other one in case you’re interested was Marcus Sheridan over at The Sales Lion.)

And I’ve been watching Steve’s progress with great interest. And recently it seems that Steve has been everywhere being interviewed about his success with Kindle. Plus he’s also detailed his strategies and their results over the last year or so.

If you don’t know who Steve is a good snap shot of his success can be found on these posts:

And from those posts here’s an excerpted list of his income from the last year or so presented on a month-by-month basis:

  • May 2013 – $10
  • June 2013 – $760
  • July 2013 – $375
  • Aug 2013 – $265
  • Sept 2013 – $2330
  • Oct 2013 – $3015
  • Nov 2013 – $4285
  • Dec 2013 – $15,310
  • Jan 2014 – $19,143
  • Feb 2014 – $14, 146
  • Mar 2014 – $16,623
  • Apr 2014 – $13,787
  • May 2014 – $61,751
  • June 2014 – $50, 320

Now these figures aren’t the whole story, there are expenses (that Steve also lists in his posts), but I think they’re pretty interesting figures. And major kudos to Steve for being so transparent about his results.

Those four posts I linked above are definitely worth checking out because Steve lists his traffic and subscriber numbers as well as his income…and those metrics have experienced similar levels of growth.

(Paul’s Note: Steve has other books out there in Kindle land than the ‘habit’ books that he writes – this income just represents income from those habit books.)

[Read more...]

Why One Spoon Is Coming Back

18 months ago I put this blog – One Spoon At A Time – on hiatus and I truly thought it would never come back. At one stage as I was reorganizing my websites I nearly junked it totally.

But now I’m glad I didn’t.

Because I’m going to start posting here again.

So Why Is One Spoon Coming Back?

When I originally put One Spoon on hiatus I did so because I was moving into other areas not connected to the things I’d been writing about – like video marketing and content marketing and so on. Plus my main business website – my how to play bass site was getting busier and busier. And I just didn’t have the time anymore.

Now I’m still working on my main bass website. And the other main project that drew me off too is still ongoing. And hopefully will always be.

But something happened that has eventually led to this post and the site starting up again.

I Needed To Teach My Friend How To Write

A friend of mine is great at video and audio – but he hates writing. And due to a strange combination of circumstances he has been put in the situation where he can’t record video or audio and can only communicate with his audience by writing.

So he’s needed to learn how to write.   (Paul’s Note: by “learn how to write” I don’t mean the physical act of shaping letters and learning to read them, and then combining letters to form words and so on. What I mean is how to write reasonable quality articles and posts for a commercially minded website.)

Like all of us when we need some help we look to our friends and family, see who can provide the help that’s needed, and reach out.

In his circle, the only person he knows who can help him learn to write is me.

So I’ve been creating a series of lessons for him that are helping him learn how to do this. We started with why web content is so important for a small business and then moved onto what’s unique about web content. And then slowly but surely we’ve gradually worked through the need for outlining, worked through turning the outline into an article, worked out how to use the article to direct web visitors to more pages on the business website.

And we’re about to start on some simple editing tips.

That Sounds Reasonably Linear Right?

It does.

Only every so often I’ve needed to create a lesson on a topic that detours from the main thread. And some times those detours grow into a mini series that’s four or five lessons long.

And then we circle back and pick up our ‘writing’ strand again.

These detours aren’t always about writing, but they’re always connected to HOW writing affects your business, and how writing is intrinsically connected TO your business.

In writing these series of lessons it occurred to me that:

I Know More Than I Thought I Knew

Not only that. Because of all the years I’ve spent studying deliberate practice and how to use it as a teacher, I’m also good at taking that knowledge and turning it into actionable lessons.

And I thought: if these lessons are helping my friend, they might help other people.

And just like that….One Spoon came back into the picture.

So Who Is The ‘New’ One Spoon For?

In the past I’ve written lots of video articles and video marketing articles. But here’s the truth: video is something that I do because I have to. Writing (and teaching writing) is something that I do because I love it.

So One Spoon is for writers. And folks who want to improve their writing.

There are still video articles in the archive…I’ve left them on the site. Though they are all out of date and someone once said that internet years are like dog years, so they are seriously out of date.

So if you’re interested in writing…stick around because I’m going to start posting some writing articles very soon. If you’ve got any questions you’d like to see answered…you can try posting a comment and I’ll try and answer it. If your question is really good it might get turned into an article.

Posting Schedule

I haven’t even worked out my posting schedule yet. I still have lots of time commitments, so for now it’s probably going to be once a week. As it’s Monday today…and I’ve written what I need to…I’ll close simply.

See you next Monday.