Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” album spoke loud and clear last week, as it will debut at No. 1 on this week’s Billboard 200 chart with a whopping 1,047,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It’s the largest sales week for an album since 50 Cent’s “The Massacre” bowed at No. 1 with 1,141,000 in March of 2005.
Since SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991, there have only been 16 instances where an album sold at least a million copies in a week. The last time we had a million-plus frame was when Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” launched at No. 1 with 1,006,000 in June of 2008. The SoundScan-era record week is still held by NSYNC’s “No Strings Attached,” when it debuted at No. 1 with 2,416,000 in 2000.
Nielsen SoundScan, which fuels Billboard’s music sales charts, tracks point-of-purchase sales of recorded music product, aggregating data from more than 20,000 retailers in the U.S. (including digital download services like iTunes and Amazon MP3), which represents more than 95% of retail music product sales in the U.S.
A day after its Oct. 25 release, industry pundits were projecting that “Speak Now” would sell between 800,000 and 900,000 by the end of SoundScan’s tracking week on Sunday, Oct. 31. Those predictions got even sunnier over the weekend, and by yesterday (Nov. 1), it seemed a sure bet that the 1 million mark would be met.
“Speak Now” marks Swift’s second Billboard 200 No. 1 after her last set, “Fearless” started with 592,000 in November of 2008. It spent 11 non-consecutive weeks at the summit.
A few more Swift milestones to note: “Speak Now” has the second-largest sales week of any country album since 1991. Only Garth Brooks’ 1998 effort “Double Live” moved more, when it started with 1,085,000. Thus, Swift also achieves the biggest sales week of any female country act since 1991. Previously, the high-water mark was set by fellow crossover diva Shania Twain when her “Up!” started with 874,000 at No. 1 in 2002.
And, “Speak” owns the biggest week for any album by a woman — regardless of genre — since 2000, when Britney Spears’ “Oops! I Did It Again” danced into the No. 1 spot with 1,319,000. In total, just four albums by women have notched million-plus weeks. Aside from Swift and Spears, Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard” soundtrack moved 1,061,000 over the busy Christmas week of 1992, and Norah Jones’ “Feels Like Home” debuted at No. 1 with 1,022,000 in 2004.
Come back Wednesday morning when we’ll have our traditional run down of the week’s top 10 albums and highlights from the Digital Songs chart.