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Adele is a Phenomenon: New Album Sells Record-Shattering 3.38 Million Copies

The final numbers are in, and they confirm expectations: Adele is a phenomenon.

Billboard reports that the singer’s new album, “25” (XL/Columbia), sold a record-shattering 3.38 million copies in the United States through its first week, according to Nielsen Music. That’s nearly a million more than the previous high mark for first-week sales — ’N Sync sold 2.4 million copies of “No Strings Attached” in 2000 — and makes “25” the first-ever release to sell three million copies in a week since Nielsen (and previously SoundScan) began tallying hard sales data in 1991.

Its opening puts “25” easily atop the Billboard 200 and made it the best-selling album of 2015 so far, besting Taylor Swift’s “1989,” which was released in 2014 and has sold nearly 2 million albums this year. One thing the albums have in common is that the artists chose not to stream them onSpotify, favoring potential sales over free streams and likely contributing to their monster numbers.

The industry-shaking release roll-out — which included an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and a promotional partnership with Target, the biggest retailer for physical “25” sales — comes after a period of public silence following Adele’s previous album, “21.” That album has sold some 30 million copies — 11.2 million in the United States — since 2011, but Adele, 27, has avoided keeping up appearances in the press and on social media.

Her public, however, proved patient, loyal and willing to spend. (Nielsen has said the typical Adele fan is a college-educated woman aged 25 to 44, according to its demographics research.) The album’s first single, “Hello,” which was released on Oct. 23 and made available on streaming services, immediately shot to No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart and has not budged since. “Hello” became the first track to sell more than 1 million downloads in a week, nearly doubling the previous record of 636,000 held by Flo Rida’s “Right Round.”

For “25,” which in addition to Adele’s trademark heartbreak ballads includes weary meditations on aging, it took just over three days of the sales week to surpass ’N Sync’s record.

One question remaining is whether Adele can top herself: “21” spent 24 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. “25” is just getting comfortable there.

New York Times

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