According to Nielsen Music, Adele‘s latest album, 25, sold a mind-boggling 3.4 million copies in its first week. This sets a new record for album sales in the first week after release. As a point of comparison, Taylor Swift’s 1989 sold just under 1.3 million copies in its first week.
There was a lot of hype behind the release of Adele’s third full album, which undoubtedly added to the outrageous first-week sales. Sales of 25 comprised a whopping 41 percent of all U.S. album sales that week, and 51 percent of those sales were physical copies of the album. The 3.4 million albums sold has 25 sitting pretty at the top of the list of the best-selling album of the year. Behind 25 is Taylor Swift’s 1989, which sold just 1.8 million in sales this year.
The British star’s latest album is not her first foray with the number one spot on the chart. Her sophomore album, 21, also hit number one when it was released. However, it moved a paltry 352,000 copies in comparison to 25‘s 3.4 million. To date, 21 has sold more than 11 million copies since its release in 2011.
One interesting and controversial contributing factor to these incredibly huge sales may be the fact that, like Taylor Swift, Adele did not allow Spotify to stream the album. This meant that even people who pay the $10 monthly fee for Spotify Premium could not listen to Adele’s album on the service. People like Adele and Taylor Swift have done this in an effort to make people outside of the industry aware of how little money musicians make from allowing their music to stream.
Though Adele’s decision not to stream 25 may have boosted her album sales, it probably doesn’t mean the end of streaming services altogether. Some people have speculated that her decision may spark people to begin buying more physical copies of albums, although this will not likely happen, either. As everything becomes more and more digitized, streaming music is here to stay. What does need to be addressed, though, is the way musicians are paid. For people like Taylor Swift and Adele, money is no concern. For small bands who just want to get their name out there, however, royalties can be a major issue. Maybe Adele can use her power and obvious pull with the world to help make a change for the smaller guys.