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Breaking Down 2020’s Biggest Bundles: Merch, Shows & Beyond

While bundling albums with concert tickets and merchandise no longer counts toward a chart victory (as of Oct. 9) — and as of Aug. 7 neither will a digital album sold with a physical bundle count as…

While bundling albums with concert tickets and merchandise no longer counts toward a chart victory (as of Oct. 9) — and as of Aug. 7 neither will a digital album sold with a physical bundle count as a separate sale — these five titles became 2020 bestsellers in part thanks to the practices.

Kenny Chesney’s Here and Now

Here and Now’s debut-week sales of 220,000 (according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data) were powered by a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer for Chesney’s upcoming tour. His 2019 trek neared $10 million in sales (according to Billboard Boxscore), but it was his 2018 Trip Around the Sun Tour that became his highest-grossing outing ever, earning $114.3 million (and the Billboard Music Award for top country tour). Chesney was forced to push his Chillaxification Tour to 2021 due to the pandemic, with new dates set to start in May.

Lady Gaga’s Chromatica

Lady Gaga’s dancefloor-ready No. 1 album earned 274,000 equivalent album units in its first week. Chromatica’s sales were bolstered by a concert ticket/album sale bundle (for Gaga’s three since-postponed U.S. stadium shows) plus dozens of merchandise/album bundles sold through the artist’s web store — which included expectedly left-field items like rain boots, a jockstrap and briefs.

Juice WRLD’s Legends Never Die

The first release following Juice WRLD’s December 2019 death debuted at No. 1 with 209,000 in debut-week album sales. The posthumous set’s first-week sales, which featured Trippie Redd, Marshmello and Halsey, among others — was supported by over 100 bundle offers, with merch like an iPhone case, drawstring bag, hoodies and shorts, available on the late Chicago rapper’s website.

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The Weeknd’s After Hours

The 275,000 in first-week sales for After Hours were largely driven by a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer for The Weeknd’s world tour — which is now scheduled to launch in June 2021 after postponing its initial summer/fall 2020 dates due to COVID-19 — as well as 80-plus different merchandise/album bundles, from a work jacket to a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-inspired long-sleeve, sold through the singer-songwriter’s website.

Taylor Swift’s folklore

In the first week of release for Swift’s surprise indie-folk project, a dozen different bundles of the digital and physical album — CD, vinyl LP or cassette — were sold through Swift’s web store, a first for the artist who has long distributed physical copies of new product through a Target partnership. Swift also offered an array of merch/digital album bundles, such as a cable-knit cardigan to keep Swifties cozy while listening to the lead single of the same name. It all led to the biggest sales week of the year: 615,000 copies sold.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 19, 2020, issue of Billboard.