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Taylor Swift and 1989 Can Save the Record Industry

Taylor Swift performs on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Oct. 23 in Los Angeles
Taylor Swift performs on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Oct. 23 in Los AngelesPhotograph by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Even Taylor Swift’s admirers—and they are legion—spend a lot of time second guessing the pop star. They question everything from her latest hairstyle (shorter) and her parade of alleged boyfriends (Joe Jonas to Jake Gyllenhaal) to her metamorphosis from a Nashville ingenue to a worldly top-40 butterfly. If that wasn’t enough, many have tied the fate of the record industry to the release her fifth album, 1989, on Monday.

Unlike Swift, a self-described “enthusiastic optimist,” the business is in a funk. None of her peers has released an album this year that has sold more than 1 million copies in its first week. Swift’s previous two records—2012′s Red and 2010′s Speak Now—easily overshot that mark. The fear in the music trade is that if Swift and her independent record company, Big Machine, can’t do the same with 1989, it bodes poorly for the format.