It's official, Adele's "25" album has smashed records in the U.S. for first-week sales, with a final tally of 3.48 million sold. The number completely obliterates the prior record set in 2000 by boy band N'Sync, whose "No Strings Attached" CD sold 2.42 million.
That means Adele outsold the previous record-holders by more than one million. To gain some perspective on how remarkable that accomplishment is, no other artist has even broken the two million sales mark in all of 2015, and yes, that includes Taylor Swift, who moved 1.7 million copies of her recent smash CD, 1989, this year. To be fair, Swift's CD was released in 2014, in late October, and sold 3.66 million copies in that year. What that also means, however, is that Adele sold almost as many copies in her first week as Swift did in over two months of release in 2014, a period that included the entire lucrative holiday shopping season.
Speaking of the holidays, Adele's accomplishment is all the more remarkable because the period for her first week sales did not even include Black Friday and the rest of the big holiday shopping weekend, although it did include Thanksgiving. Almost half of sales for "25" were via digital downloads, with 1.64 million albums purchased on the 'net. That blows away the previous record holder, Lady Gaga's 2011 "Born This Way," by over a million.
First-week sales figures for "25" were initially announced at 3.38 million, but an additional 100,000 were later added due to digital sales of "track equivalent albums" and "streaming equivalent albums." Of course, Adele made headlines when it was announced that, at least for now, her new album would not be featured on Spotify, Apple Music or any other streaming services, although she is legally obligated to allow tracks from the collection to be played on Pandora.
However, because the album's first single, "Hello," was in fact released to the big streamers, along with her popular flip phone-featuring video on YouTube, Web streams are added up along with digital sales of the single and considered as album sales, even though technically, they are not. The practice has indeed been controversial, as it potentially allows artists with huge hit singles to appear on the charts as if their albums are also doing well, when actual sales of their collections may be minimal. In any case, compared with the enormous totals for "25," the extra 100,000 is just a drop in the bucket for Adele. Look for her sales numbers to continue to skyrocket as the holiday shopping season kicks further into gear.