Taylor Swift rules the Billboard 200 albums chart (she rules several Billboard albums-only rankings, actually) this week with her new release Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which immediately became the singer’s ninth leader on the list. The set opens atop the tally with 291,000 equivalent units, which is enough to grant the star the largest start on the chart of 2021.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) performed well when looking at sales and streams, and that 291,000 figure is spread fairly evenly between the two. Impressively, while many new releases, even those from the biggest names in the business, typically need both sales and massive streaming sums to have a shot at topping the Billboard 200, Swift’s latest performed so well on streaming platforms that she didn’t need to sell a single copy in order to launch at No. 1.
Once against Spotify and many other streaming sites, Swift is now one of the biggest names to be found on those outlets, and she benefits greatly from that fact whenever she has something new to share with fans. Between the 26 tracks featured on Fearless (Taylor’s Version), the album earned just under 143 million plays (according to Billboard) on platforms like Apple Music and a number of others, with all of those streams helping propel the title to the top.
Those 143 million streams are broken down by Billboard, using its own methodology, into 109,000 streaming equivalent album units. This week’s second-most-popular title on the Billboard 200 is DMX’s The Best of DMX, which returns to the tally following the rapper’s passing. Between streams and sales, that compilation moved 77,000 equivalent units.
So, that means that if Fearless (Taylor’s Version) had only been uploaded to streaming sites and nobody was allowed to buy the project in full or even any of the tunes, it still would have gone to No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Had she decided to go this route, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) would have made history as the first-ever streaming-only chart-topper on the list.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) sold even better than it streamed, as the title was purchased by 179,000 fans in its debut tracking frame. It also would have opened in first place had the country musician only opted to put it up for sale and ignored streaming platforms entirely. It seems that Swift is so popular and powerful, she can now hit No. 1 however she chooses, and with relative ease.