How many copies will Adele’s 25 sell in its first week?

On its day of release, I predicted that Adele’s “Hello” would be #1 on this week’s Hot 100. I later predicted that it would sell over one million copies in its first week, completely decimating Flo Rida’s weekly sales record of 636,000 copies. Both predictions came true. Now, let’s see if we can make it three out of three!

The question on everyone’s mind is this: How many copies of 25 will Adele sell in her first week of release?

The Data

Here is what we know:

1) “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift’s lead single from 1989, sold 544,000 first-week downloads.

2) 1989 broke One Direction’s 195,000 copy pre-order record. I don’t know how many pre-orders 1989 actually ended up with.

3) Taylor Swift sold 1.287 million first-week copies of 1989.

4) “Hello,” Adele’s lead single from 25, sold 1.11 million copies in its first week.

5) 25 drove over 100,000 pre-orders in its first day of availability, and over 200,000 by the end of its third day. There are an additional 26 days of pre-order sales before the album drops on November 20th, after which Adele will have one full week to rack up sales.

6) Adele is still selling monstrous quantities of “Hello” on iTunes, and may sell over 700,000 copies in its second week. Although sales had declined somewhat from peak values, they actually spent most of the past day gaining. It is currently selling about 5.627 times as many copies/hour as the #2 song on US iTunes, Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”

7) 21 has sold 11.2 million copies. Red, Taylor Swift’s immediately previous album, had sold 4.045 million copies as of July 2014 (before 1989 was released).


Single Sales

“Hello” sold 2.04 times as many first-week copies as “Shake it Off.” If we assume an identical relationship among relative album sales, we would expect 25 to sell 2.625 million first-week copies. 


We don’t really have any way of knowing exactly how many pre-orders 25 will end up with, or how many 1989 did end up with. Assuming, however, that 1989 had 210,000 pre-orders and 25 will end up with 550,000 pre-orders, and again assuming an identical relationship among relative first-week album sales, we would expect 25 to sell 3.371 million first-week copies. 

Prior Album Total Sales

First week album sales are logically tied to what people thought of the prior album (which can be approximated by looking at how many copies the most recent album sold). 21 has sold 2.769 times more copies than Red had sold prior to the release of 1989. Assuming an identical relationship among relative first-week album sales of the subsequent album, we would expect 25 to sell 3.564 million first-week copies. 

Additional Considerations

Pre-orders for 25 and first-week sales of “Hello” are undoubtedly a product of Adele’s extraordinary success with her last album and her long absence from the music scene. But, she is back now, so one might question how long she can maintain this astronomical level of public interest. If Adele were to maintain the public’s current level of excitement through the end of the month, then she might very well sell 3 million copies of her album. But, she obviously won’t. Even Adele wears off eventually. Her single sales are strong, but they are not at their peak values, and her pre-orders were weaker two days after release than they were on release day.

Taylor Swift was not absent from the music scene as long as was Adele. Taylor Swift releases an album every second fall like clockwork. She generated a lot of excitement, but perhaps not as much as if she had stayed away longer. As a result, it is conceivable that excitement in her did not wear off as fast as will excitement in Adele.

Ultimately, the question is whether and to what extent these figures overstate the true number of albums Adele is likely to sell in her first week.


So, how many copies do I think Adele’s 25 will sell in its first week?

2 – 2.5 million copies. 

[Record for single-week album sales: 2.416 million; NSYNC; No Strings Attached; March 21st, 2000]
[Record for single week album sales for a female artist: 1.319 million; Britney Spears; Oops I Did It Again; May 3rd, 2000]

Billboard has so far predicted that 25 will sell between 1.3 and 1.8 million copies. I think Billboard’s estimate is conservative. Remember, Billboard estimated that 1989 would sell only 750,000 first-week copies because the music industry was so depressed. The industry is depressed. Album sales are at a fraction of what they were even a few years ago. People just don’t pay for albums anymore. At the same time, however, the number of potential album-purchasers is at an all-time high. Americans have a growing overall population, substantial disposable income, and a recovering economy. If everyone gets excited and buys an album, then that album can still be a block-buster even as the industry around it crumbles.

Adele is maintaining a lot of excitement. She has already racked up over 215 million youtube views for “Hello” in about twelve days of release, and she is still getting a massive 15 million views/day. As mentioned previously, “Hello” sales actually experienced a day-over-day INCREASE and are looking likely to break Flo Rida’s record AGAIN. Maybe excitement over Adele will fade, but I, for one, don’t believe it is going to fade much until after her album has been out for a bit.

Is it conceivable that Adele could sell 3 million? Perhaps. I wouldn’t count on it, though. But I don’t think 2 million is at all unrealistic.

How many copies do you think Adele will sell? Do you think I missed a key piece of logic? Is there an artist you wish I would cover more (or at all)? What’s your third favorite color? As usual, enjoy staring at Adele’s ridiculous domination of basically every iTunes and Spotify chart in the world right now and then feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Adele Worldwide iTunes/Spotify Performance

Last update: 2015-11-03 21:35:09 EDT
(24 hour differences)


Someone Like You


Album: 25


Published by


Peter Daines is a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. His interests include studying foreign languages, watching and predicting events in politics and the music industry, and searching fruitlessly for the meaning of life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s