Tag Archives: Adele

Adele’s Album Sales Are Historically Bonkers

Adele’s new album, 25, sold 3.38 million copies in its first week in the United States. This is bonkers. That’s more — way more — than any other album has sold in a week since Nielsen started tracking real sales in 1991.

Only one other album has sold more than two million albums in a week, and nobody’s sold three million. *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached sold 2.42 million in 2000. For the mathematically challenged, 25 sold 960,000 more copies than its closest rival which happened to be released at the absolute zenith of record sales. Billboard‘s Glenn Peoples has some crazy figures that claim that adjusted for inflation (or something) this would somehow be “equivalent to her selling 7.59 million units in 2000.” I don’t know about that, but I know that 3.38 million is a shitload of records in 2015 or any other year.

Pre-SoundScan data is unreliable at best, but it took Sgt. Pepper three months to sell 2.5 million copies according Bob Spitz’s Beatles biography. Beatles' Record-Busting LP (Rolling Stone Dec 21 1968)It took Meet the Beatles four years to sell 5.8 million copies, according to issue No. 24 of Rolling Stone. That same 1968 article points out that the top selling album of all time then was The Sound of Music soundtrack with 8 million. It was front page news that Capitol Records had shipped 3,301,275 copies of the White Album to stores.

So this is big news.

In addition to those 3.38 million “pure album sales” 25 also moved 96,000 “track equivalent album units” and another 8,000 “streaming equivalent album units” bringing its official Nielsen total to 3.48 million equivalent album units.

More sales details: 1.71 million compact discs, 1.64 million digital albums, 22,000 vinyl albums. Sorry hipsters, there was no official cassette release.

A year ago when Taylor Swift sold 1,287,000 copies of 1989, I pointed out how rare it’s always been to sell more than a million albums in a week. SoundScan began compiling its figures May 25, 1991, and for the first 8 years there were only two albums that achieved it. The year 2000 was insane when there were 5 albums that broke the million mark, but since then it’s been about one album per year despite the fact that album sales have been declining steadily. It’s obvious now that 2000 was a bubble.

But Adele is a force of nature. The question now is how long will 25 keep selling? I was mesmerized by the staying power of 21, which managed to sell 100,000 copies every week for what seemed like forever. Will 25 have those kinds of legs? We shall see.

Continue reading Adele’s Album Sales Are Historically Bonkers

Eleven Million Adele Fans Can’t Be Wrong

A couple of years ago, it blew my mind that Adele’s 21 had sold more than 100,000 copies per week for what ended up being 45 weeks by the time I stopped paying attention. Back then 21 had cumulative sales of a little over seven million. Well, guess what: it’s still selling.

Last week Adele’s 21 surpassed 11 million in U.S. sales. This is 189 weeks after it was released, and it has never once fallen out of the Billboard 200. In fact, Billboard‘s Keith Caulfield points out that “It has spent all but 11 of its chart weeks in the top 100.” That’s just bonkers.

Continue reading Eleven Million Adele Fans Can’t Be Wrong

How does Adele keep finding new fans?

Are you one of the almost six million people who’ve bought Adele’s 21? If not, there’s no real hurry. You don’t have to rush into the decision. Adele has somehow managed to find at least 100,000 new people to buy her album every week for 32 (non-consecutive) weeks now.

At the end of last year, Billboard ran a story about the 14 albums that have notched at least 30 weeks of 100,000-plus sales since 1991:

• Alanis Morissette, “Jagged Little Pill” – 64 (1995-1997)
• Britney Spears, “…Baby One More Time” – 50 (1999-2000)
• Creed, “Human Clay” – 49 (1999-2001)
• Celine Dion, “Falling Into You” – 43 (1996-1997)
• Shania Twain, “Come on Over” – 42 (1997-2000)
• Hootie & the Blowfish, “Cracked Rear View” – 40 (1995-1996)
• Santana, “Supernatural” – 39 (1999-2000)
• Backstreet Boys, “Millennium” – 34 (1999-2000)
• Usher, “Confessions” – 33 (2004-2005)
• Spice Girls, “Spice” – 32 (1997-1998)
• Billy Ray Cyrus, “Some Gave All” – 31 (1992-1993)
• NSYNC, “No Strings Attached” – 31 (2000-2001)
• Kid Rock, “Devil Without a Cause” – 30 (1999-2000)
• Adele, “21” – 30 (to date) (2011-2012)

That was two weeks ago, and Adele sold 124,000 copies this week and 144,000 copies the week before. So she’s at 32 weeks now, which ties the Spice Girls. If she can find 100,000 new buyers for two more weeks she’ll pass Usher and have the most weeks of 100,000-plus sales since 2001. I hope she does it.

But I don’t get how she’s still managing to reach new people. By now, even Appalachian hermits and the Amish know all the words to “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You.” Is it just that most people are happy to download the singles? (“Rolling” and “Someone” sold 5.81 million and 3.75 million downloads in 2011, respectively.) There’s a new single storming up the charts again, so maybe this one will tip the remaining holdouts over the edge. Maybe this song will convince another huge batch of people that perhaps it’s time to just buy the whole damn album.

Video: Adele – Set Fire To The Rain (Live)

12 Years of Album Sales: 2011 Year-End Soundscan Data

UPDATE: Here’s the 2015 Soundscan data.

The big news is that total albums sales actually went up a little for the first time since 2004. Of course, considering the fact that physical CD sales slid another 6% and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way sold a million copies for 99 cents, you can be sure that total album revenue is still way, way down this year.

But hey, folks bought 3.9 million vinyl albums in 2011! And check this out: “67% of all vinyl albums sold in 2011 were purchased at an independent music store and nearly 3 out of every 4 vinyl LPs bought were a rock album.” So: hooray for our side!

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 542.4 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 667 million
2003: 687 million
2002: 681 million
2001: 763 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 711 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million

Compact Discs

2011: 223.5 million
2010: 239.9 million
2009: 294.9 million
2008: 360.6 million
2007: 449.2 million
2006: 553.4 million
2005: 598.9 million
2004: 651.1 million
2003: 635.8 million
2002: 649.5 million
2001: 712.0 million
2000: 730.0 million
1999: 648.1 million
1998: ~578 million
1997: 504.6 million
1996: 448.4 million

Track equivalent albums (where 10 track downloads equal one album)

2011: 457.7 million
2010: 443.4 million
2009: 489.8 million
2008: 535.4 million
2007: 585 million
2006: 646.3 million
2005: 654.1 million
2004: 680.7 million

Digital Albums

2011: 103.1 million
2010: 86.3 million
2009: 76.4 million
2008: 65.8 million
2007: 50 million
2006: 16.2 million
2005: 5.5 million

Vinyl albums

2011: 3.9 million
2010: 2.8 million
2009: 2.5 million
2008: 1.88 million
2007: 990,000
2006: 858,000

2000: 1.5 million

Cassette albums

2009: 34,000

2007: 274,000

2004: 8.6 million

2002: 29.8 million
2001: 49.4 million
2000: 77.2 million
1999: 105.5 million
1998: ~130.8 million
1997: 146 million
1996: 166.7 million

Digital tracks

2011: 1.27 billion
2010: 1.17 billion
2009: 1.16 billion
2008: 1.07 billion
2007: 844.1 million
2006: 582 million
2005: 353 million
2004: 141 million
2003: 19.2 million (SoundScan monitored them only during the year’s second half)

Current vs. Catalog

1999: 66.4% vs 33.6
1998: 64% vs 36%
1997: 59.9% vs 40.1%

Sources: Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, USA Today, Computer World, New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, CTV, BBC, WSJ, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Pitchfork.

Sales: Tony Bennett is on Top of the World, Baby

It’s been a while since we looked at the Billboard 200. What blows my mind is that nine months after it was released, Adele’s album still manages to find 100,000+ new buyers every week. Who are these people who haven’t figured out they want this album by now?

1. Tony Bennett – “Duets II” – 179,000 (debut)
2. Lady Antebellum – “Own the Night” – 125,000 (down 64%)
3. Adele – “21” – 117,000 (down 2%)
4. Demi Lovato – “Unbroken” – 96,000 (debut)
5. Lil Wayne – “Tha Carter IV” – 84,000 (down 28%)
6. NeedToBreathe – “The Reckoning” – 49,000 (debut)
7. Mindless Behavior – “#1 Girl” – 36,000 (debut)
8. Gavin DeGraw – “Sweeter” – 34,000 (debut)
9. Jay-Z and Kanye West – “Watch the Throne” – 31,000
10. Pearl Jam – “Pearl Jam Twenty” – 27,000 (debut)

Lower:

24. Tori Amos – “Night Of Hunters” – 18,000 (debut)
26. Superheavy – “Superheavy” – 18,000 (debut)

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 25) totaled 5.28 million units

• Year to date album sales stand at 222.93 million

Additional sales data via Yahoo and MTV.