November 19, 2008 / 3:20 PM / 10 years ago

Taylor Swift tops album charts

LONDON (Reuters) - Teenaged singer and songwriter Taylor Swift topped the U.S. album charts on Wednesday with her second album “Fearless,” according to record label Universal, which has signed an international marketing deal with the star.

Country music star Taylor Swift arrives for the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music company, said Fearless sold 592,000 copies in the last week in the United States, making it one of the biggest releases to date this year.

It was the largest opening U.S. sales week in 2008 by a female artist and the fourth biggest overall, behind Lil Wayne, AC/DC and Coldplay.

Fearless also appears to have boosted sales of Swift’s 2006 debut “Taylor Swift,” which this week rose to number 21 in the Billboard 200 chart, from 26th last week. That album has sold 3.5 million copies to date in the United States.

Swift, 18, has been billed as one of pop music’s biggest young stars, although her success to date has been almost exclusively in North America.

Universal wants to change that by signing a license agreement with Swift’s label Big Machine Records to promote her internationally. Universal already distributes her records in the United States.

“She is by some distance the biggest breakthrough for an American artist in America over the last year,” said Max Hole, executive vice president of Universal Music Group International.

Asked if Swift’s association with country music, a genre that does not always travel well outside the United States, might be a problem, Hole told Reuters:

“I don’t really see her as a country artist. If you listen to the records and see her play live, she has much more in common with acts like Avril Lavigne and Miley Cyrus.”

He said Swift’s international launch, through Universal’s Mercury Records, would involve a hybrid album early next year combining songs from Taylor Swift and Fearless.

It would also involve re-mixing some of the songs.

“We will have a hybrid album called Fearless coming out in March,” Hole said.

“Step one is that she is coming into Europe in February and March and May and to Australia in March,” he added.

“She will play showcase-type shows with small audiences and media people, and a lot on TV, and there will be major new-media promotional activity.”

Swift may then stage an international tour in the autumn.

Hole declined to disclose the terms of the deal between Universal and Big Machine Records, saying only that it was a long-term agreement involving “significant” investment.

Universal signed a similar deal with the Eagles in 2007 to release “Long Road Out of Eden” outside North America.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Taylor Swift performs on stage at the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards show in Las Vegas, May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

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