Adele's new album, '25,' breaking record sales

Adele's '25' debuted on Nov. 20. Her previous album, '21,' became the highest-selling album of both 2011 and 2012. The band 'N Sync previously held the record for most albums sold in a week.

John Shearer/Invision/AP
Adele arrives at the 2013 Oscars in Los Angeles.

Adele’s new album “25” isn’t just big – it’s record-setting big.

“25” has broken the record for number of albums sold in one week since Nielsen began tracking such data in 1991. At press time, Adele’s album has sold, 2,433,000 albums. These numbers are from the album’s first four days, not even the whole week.

The record for most albums sold in a week was previously held by the band 'N Sync, which sold 2,416,000 albums in a week with their work “No Strings Attached” in 2000.

Adele’s sales are reportedly fairly evenly split between CD sales and digital album sales. Adele and her team opted not to make “25” available on streaming services as of yet, which certainly could have contributed to these numbers – it seems fairly likely listeners would have opted to stream an album on Spotify or another service if that had been possible, but since it wasn’t, buying the album was the only legal option.

For the all-time rankings of most albums ever sold in a week, early 2000s acts are clustered near the top of the list. Before Adele changed the rankings, 'N Sync also came in at number two with the amount of albums sold in a week for their album “Celebrity,” which came out in 2001. Eminem’s 2000 album “The Marshall Mathers EP” is third, followed by the Backstreet Boys’ 2000 album “Black & Blue” and Britney Spears’ 2000 work “Oops!... I Did It Again.” An album from past these years doesn’t appear until Taylor Swift’s 2012 work “Red.”

Why would this be? One obvious factor is Napster. The music-sharing service launched in June 1999. The service was no doubt still gaining popularity as all these albums from 2000 debuted. People were still going out and buying a CD as their default method of consuming music. 

In addition, because of factors like a lack of music-sharing services and streaming music, consumers were simply buying more albums. Taylor Swift’s “1989” was the biggest album of 2014, selling 3.66 million copies that year. The “Frozen” soundtrack was close behind “1989,” selling 3.53 million. 

By contrast, in 2000, that same 'N Sync album, “No Strings Attached,” sold 9.9 million copies and Eminem’s “Slim” was behind that with 7.92 million. 

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