Update: With just over one day of tracking remaining, sales are over 3 million. Hits Daily Double is now projecting 3.5 million sales. I don’t know how they arrive at that number, but my guess is that it has something to do with Black Friday, a divergence in Billboard and Hits methodology, and physical retailers possibly under-reporting current sales. Either way, I think 3.2m+ is a safe bet.
Update: With just over two days of tracking week remaining, sales are at 2.8 million. Billboard has finally increased its estimate to 3 million for the week. It is clearly going to sell at least 3.1 million, possibly even 3.2 million or 3.3 million, given that it sold 500,000 copies in the past two days. Billboard purposively underestimates sales so that it can generate more traffic to easy stories when Adele “outperforms” expectations.
Update: Billboard has now confirmed that Adele’s 25 broke NSYNC’s record with 2.433 million copies in just over three days of sales. Billboard is predicting 2.9 million total sales for the week; I think the total will be well over 3 million.
Update: HitsDailyDouble projects 5.05 million copies sold by December 31st, for a whopping 45% of all 2015 album sales (that is triple the 15% that NSYNC ended up with in 2000, when they made the 2.416 million weekly sales record).
In the year 2000, at the height of the CD and boy band fever and before piracy and streaming, 88 albums sold more than one million copies, and six accomplished the feat in a single week. It was then that NSYNC set a record that no other artist since has come close to touching–No Strings Attached sold 2.415 million copies in a single week. The runner up, in fact, was another NSYNC album that sold 1.880 million copies the next year. Although 20 albums have sold more than 1 million copies in a single week since the beginning of Soundscan sales tracking in the early 1990s, a Backstreet Boys album and Britney Spears’ Oops I Did it Again are the only others to have sold more than 1.3 million in a tracking week.
Now, three of the past four albums to sell one million copies in a week have been by artists named Taylor Swift (the fourth was Lady Gaga’s Born This Way in 2011, which was famously discounted in the Amazon store for $1 during its debut week, accounting for perhaps 400,000 of its 1.1 million sales total). Taylor Swift is the only artist to ever sell more than one million copies in a week with three separate albums, and it was once thought that she might be the last artist to ever do so.
Then Adele happened.
Here is a list of albums selling more than one million copies in a week: Artist; Title; Sales; Sales Week Ending
Adele; 25; TBD*; Nov. 26, 2015 (*sales for debut week to be determined; estimates between 2.9 and 3.4 million)
Taylor Swift; 1989; 1,287,000; Nov. 2, 2014
Taylor Swift; Red; 1,208,000; Oct. 28, 2012
Lady Gaga; Born This Way; 1,108,000; May 29, 2011
Taylor Swift; Speak Now; 1,047,000; Oct. 31, 2010
Lil Wayne; Tha Carter III; 1,006,000; June 15, 2008
50 Cent; The Massacre; 1,141,000; March 6, 2005
Usher; Confessions; 1,096,000; March 28, 2004
Norah Jones; Feels Like Home; 1,022,000; Feb. 15, 2004
Eminem; The Eminem Show; 1,322,000; June 2, 2002
NSYNC; Celebrity; 1,879,955; July 29, 2001
The Beatles; 1; 1,259,000; Dec. 24, 2000
Backstreet Boys; Black & Blue; 1,591,000; Nov. 26, 2000
Limp Bizkit; Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water; 1,055,000; Oct. 22, 2000
Eminem; The Marshall Mathers LP; 1,760,049; May 28, 2000
Britney Spears; Oops!…I Did It Again; 1,319,000; May 21, 2000
NSYNC; No Strings Attached; 2,415,859; March 26, 2000
Backstreet Boys; Millennium; 1,134,000; May 23, 1999
Garth Brooks; Double Live; 1,085,000; Nov. 22, 1998
Whitney Houston/Soundtrack; The Bodyguard; 1,061,000; Jan. 3, 1993
And here is a list of some huge artists that have released huge albums in recent years that have NOT sold one million copies in a week:
Katy Perry (Prism only sold 286,000 in its first week, and that is KP’s best figure to date, following Teenage Dream, which matched MJ’s Bad record of 5 #1 singles off a single album).
Miley Cyrus (Bangers sold 270,000 copies first-week)
Nicki Minaj (The Pinkprint sold 198,000 in pure album sales, first-week)
Lady Gaga (I know people are calling Artpop a flop, with only 258,000 copies first-week, but it was still one of the ten best-selling albums of 2013. Cheek-to-Cheek (with Tony Bennet) debuted at #1 with about 130,000 first-week sales)
One Direction (Their biggest opening weeks have been around 400,000)
Justin Bieber (With all of the hubbub surrounding the Bieber v. One Direction album battle last week, Justin Bieber more than doubled initial sales forecasts by selling over 600,000 copies of his album–IF you count album-equivalent track sales and streams. If you don’t, then it sold 522,000 copies first week)
Justin Timberlake (The 20/20 Experience came close to a million with 968,000 when it was released on March 15th, 2013, but no cigar)
Eminem (The Marshal Mathers EP 2 sold over 700,000 in 2013)
Beyonce (Remember the surprise album drop right before Christmas? It didn’t quite sell 1 million in a week, even if you ignore the fact that it was released in the middle of a tracking week.).
Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp a Butterfly 324,000)
Drake (If You’re Reading this, It’s too Late 495,000 pure album sales)
Dr. Dre (Compton 295,000)
Sam Smith (In the Lonely Hour has been a slow burn, without selling a ton in any given week. 166,000)
Maroon 5 (V 165,000)
Ed Sheeran (X 210,000 — also a slow burn driven by singles)
Various Artists (Fifty Shades of Grey 258,000)
Meghan Trainor (Title 238,000 — slow burn driven by singles)
Fall Out Boy (American Beauty/American Psycho 218,000)
Josh Groban (Stages about 500,000 copies all year; 180,000 in its first week if you count album equivalent streams and track sales)
Various Artists (Furious 7 Soundtrack)
Susan Boyle (I Dreamed a Dream sold 701,000 copies in its debut week in 2009. That was the biggest debut frame of the year, and the album was the second-biggest seller of the year with 3.1 million, after Taylor Swift’s Fearless (3.2 million). The album impressively continued to sell over 500,000 copies/week until after Christmas.)