March 25, 2023

ArtsBeat: Swift’s ‘Red’ Tops a Million Sales in Week 1

Her products are for sale in a special display at Walgreens stores. She has a line of Keds shoes. She’s all over Target ads. She was even part of a deal at Papa John’s, which dressed countless pizza boxes with a photo of her lipsticked face.

All that branding paid off for Taylor Swift, whose latest album, “Red” (Big Machine), sold 1.208 million copies in its first week out — the biggest weekly take for any album since 2002, Billboard reported on Tuesday night, citing data from Nielsen SoundScan. The album will, naturally, open at No. 1 on Billboard’s new album chart, which will be released in full on Wednesday.

The success of “Red” continues a winning streak for Ms. Swift, 22. Her last record, “Speak Now,” opened with just over 1 million sales two years ago, and she is the only woman to have two albums selling a million copies in one week since 1991, when SoundScan began keeping tracking sales from music retailers. Only 18 albums, counting “Red,” have sold a million in one week, and even in this era of depressed music sales, a bunch have happened recently: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” hit the mark last year, “Speak Now” in 2010 and Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” in 2008.

In its report, Billboard noted that 465,000 sales of the album were made at iTunes, 396,000 at Target and 8,000 through Papa John’s, which sold the CD for $13 and also as part of a $22 pizza-and-CD combo. (“I don’t think it would look right on a hamburger or a taco, but it sure looks right on a Papa John’s box,” the chain’s founder, John Schnatter, said of the deal.)

One outlet where fans could not get “Red,” however, was Spotify. As other record companies have done with some major new releases, Ms. Swift’s label, Big Machine, withheld the album from the subscription streaming services like Spotify and Rdio. Some labels believe that doing so will spur download sales, or at least not cannibalize them — in the all-important first sales week.

But recently another big-selling album challenged that assumption: Mumford Sons’ “Babel” opened at No. 1 with 600,000 sales in its first week — including both CDs and album downloads — while also being available on Spotify, where it was streamed eight million times in its first week, a record for the service.

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Bucks: Donations at the Checkout Counter Are Often Deductible

If you find yourself inside a big chain drug store once or twice a week, you’ve probably been asked whether you want to donate $1 or so to a particular cause at the checkout counter.

All sorts of retailers periodically run these types of campaigns. But as a money writer, I’ve often wondered if this is the most efficient use of your charitable dollars, or is it yet another way to guilt you into parting with more money when other people are watching you.

As it turns out, the few companies I spoke with pass along 100 percent of the donation to the cause, and it’s considered tax-deductible.

Retailers all have their own reasons and motivations for supporting a particular cause and run their campaigns in different ways. But CVS and Walgreens, which owns the Duane Reade drug stores in metropolitan New York, said that they pick up the administrative costs of the campaign and send every dollar donated to the charity. The companies said they don’t typically match consumers’ contributions, as some employers do, though the campaign may be part of a broader philanthropic effort.

But some retailers do provide a match. “They are typically matching up to a certain point, or anything above” a certain level, said Daniel Butler, vice president for retail operations at the National Retail Federation.

If you want to donate more, that’s usually an option (though you run the risk of befuddling the checkout clerk). The amount you give will be listed on your receipt, which you should hold onto for tax purposes.

To qualify as a deduction, charitable donations must be made to “qualified organizations.” And only people who itemize their deductions on their federal tax return can deduct their contributions.

“A lot of the stores that collect for charities do show the donation and the cause on the receipt that you receive when you check out at the store,” said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst at CCH, a tax and accounting information service. “You would need a receipt for the contribution to get the tax deduction, unless you pay by check to the charity, which most people do not do” in that situation.

Whether the retailer has chosen a charitable organization that is well-run is another matter. There are several Web sites that can help you begin to sort this out, including, and

What do you think of the retailer’s efforts? Do you think it’s a good way to donate to charitable causes?

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