Learn music marketing strategies from Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and Adele

Image Credit: Viberate

Spotify streams of Olivia Rodrigo album release Sour grew faster than Adele and Taylor Swift’s in 2021. What can we learn from the music marketing strategies of these popular female pop artists?

Music data analysts Viberate have crunched the numbers and revealed just how quickly Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album Sour grew on Spotify in 2021.

Rodrigo came out in front of two popular female pop artists who have been in the game much longer than the young singer. In the first two weeks of streams Sour outperformed Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version), and 30 by Adele.


So, what’s the secret sauce for marketing an album?

2021 was the year that Olivia Rodrigo’s music took off. In a big way this was thanks to her popularity on TikTok. Whilst viral fame shouldn’t be endgame for musicians, TikTok’s huge userbase means having a presence on the social media platform could be a winning tactic for artists – and it’s free promotion, too.

Rodrigo’s emotional single “drivers license” came out of nowhere on TikTok and captured the hearts of teenagers (and teenagers-at-heart). She strategised by quickly following the single with her debut album, the captivating Sour, which again slipped perfectly into social media trends with its 90s references. Upon the album release, “drivers license” was raking in 800 million streams every day. It’s now reached 1.2 billion total streams. Not bad!

But of course, Rodrigo wasn’t the only female pop artist achieving great new heights in 2021. Viberate looked at the streaming performances of Adele and Taylor Swift as a comparison.

Image Credit: Viberate

All three artists had an incredible year. Taylor Swift, one of Rodrigo’s most prominent musical influences, released two albums in 2021 – she came second in comparison to Rodrigo’s debut streaming numbers.

Both 2021 releases by Taylor Swift were re-recordings of previous albums, as she finally recorded the tracks as she always intended. Whilst longtime fans like Rodrigo streamed the albums to spot changes to the originals and hear bonus tracks, curiosity about the releases turned new listeners, who weren’t interested first time around, into fans.

Viberate noticed that releasing two albums meant Swift was on the radar for the whole year. Saying this, in those initial two weeks, Swift gained 759k followers and a whopping 11.9 million new monthly listeners. In particular, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version),” an extended version of her …. song, performed amazingly, generating an average of 50 million streams a day.

Streams of the longer version of “All Too Well” were boosted by the social media buzz around the track, as rumours of who the song was about unearthed years-old gossip; and also by a 15-minute short film which served as a cinematic music video accompaniment to the extended track. Viberate noted that out of the three artists, Swift was mentioned on social media the most.

Adele was third in the lineup in terms of streams. 2021 saw the release of her much anticipated sixth album 30. The lead single “Easy On Me” was released in November and by the end of two weeks had been streamed 385 million times.

Viberate found that the biggest jump in streams came around the release of the single and announcement of the album – Adele gained 7.4 million new monthly listeners and 694k new followers in a fortnight.

Image Credit: Viberate

Whilst Rodrigo may lead the trio, both Swift and Adele’s top-performing releases both arrived in the final third of the year, giving the younger singer a head start. But Olivia Rodrigo is still at the very beginning of her career – keep an eye on her to see how her next release performs, and what further smart marketing choices are on the cards.


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I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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