How Adele And Taylor Swift Are Reinvigorating Album Sales In The Age Of Piracy

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Hurricane Adele has made landfall stateside and she is a category five and is still going strong. Honestly,  if music and meteorology were actually intertwined I would suggest making a category six just for her alone.  In November 2015, the much-anticipated album “25” made a record-breaking debut with 3.38 million of “actual” albums sold in its debut week — the first album to ever even approach the three-million mark in one week alone.

Not only does Adele have the top-selling album of 2015 with her first week sales alone, she destroyed Britney Spears’ first week sales of 1.319 million copies — a record that has been held by the pop princess since May of 2000. If that wasn’t enough proof that she’s amazing, the songstress destroyed the infamous boy band *NSYNC’s long-standing record of largest first-week sales of 2.4 million copies sold. Like Spears, their record has held since the first year of the millennium.

However, although Adele’s numbers were incredible, comparing a U.S. 2015 album sales debut week to a 2000 sales week wouldn’t be fair to any artist in today’s market. In the late nineties and early 2000s, album sales reached all-time highs. Many artists — like Backstreet Boys, Limp Bizkit, Usher, Eminem, Britney Spears, NSYNC, and Norah Jones — were dominating the charts with at least one album selling one million copies in their respective debut week.  In today’s market, many artists are lucky to sell one million copies in one year or even multiple years (take a look at the top-selling albums of 2015 below).

There have been few artists to break the mold in terms of sales dominance in the post-apocalyptic world of album sales that’s fraught with piracy, illegal downloading, sites like YouTube and music sharing apps like Spotify and Pandora.

In addition to Adele, another artist who’s grabbing the music industry by the horns is Taylor Swift.  Once a country princess with a hint of pop (now full on pop artist phenomenon with her 1989 album release), she has really stirred things up with her three recent albums debuting with one million sales weeks. The albums were released in 2010, 2012, and 2014 — some of the hardest years reach such incredible feats.   So what does Taylor Swift and Adele do that many other competitive artists don’t? Many could debate the withholding of their music catalog from streaming giants like Spotify.  It is time to take a different look at the approach of acts such as Taylor and Adele.

So what do Taylor Swift and Adele do that many other competitive artists do not? Many could debate that it’s withholding of their music catalog from streaming giants like Spotify, but I think it’s time to consider something else.

These two ladies are not the typical pop stars.  In a pop scene saturated with the same acts (i.e. same type of music, skimpy outfits, relying on sex to sell) Adele and Taylor come off as approachable women who stand out from the pack, true alphas to be exact.  Another reason is that their music reaches multiple generations of fans, especially Adele. It’s quite rare that an artist can reach a multitude of fans from different backgrounds, gender, generations.  Another person that comes to mind when I speak of this is Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle. If you recall she was the ugly duckling who became the real life swan that touched the hearts of many around the globe, not only with her talent but her life story, as well.

Adele and Taylor Swift are in charge and trying to bring the music industry out of what some might say is the great depression of music sales for many artists. If other artists were to take this approach and learn from the current standouts of the today’s music, maybe sales could turn on an upswing and gain traction in a time where music artists are solely relying on their hopefully sold out tours to be their money makers.

I believe in the music industry and that it can easily revamp itself just like a Britney fan who truly believed their pop princess would rebound from her head shaving ways and reclaim her throne as the princess of pop.

Rank Artist, Title Total Sales
1 Adele, 25 7,441,000
2 Taylor Swift, 1989 1,993,000
3 Justin Bieber, Purpose 1,269,000
4 Ed Sheeran, X 1,162,000
5 Drake, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late 1,142,000
6 Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour 1,018,000
7 Meghan Trainor, Title 1,007,000
8 The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness 862,000
9 Soundtrack, Fifty Shades of Grey 861,000
10 Luke Bryan, Kill the Lights 851,000

*Not including Streaming equivalent albums, only actual purchased sales.

Featured image via Hitfix 

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