Weekly Recap: What Should Kesha Do Now? Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, 20 Billion-View Youtube Videos, and Trivia Question

Kesha – Kesha was denied a preliminary injunction. That means that the judge isn’t going to give her relief until at least the end of the lawsuit. That means she can’t just go out and record music. To get an injunction, you have to prove that you would be 1) irreparably harmed without the injunction, and 2) that you will probably ultimately win the lawsuit. Kesha (and her lawyer) are going about this the wrong way. She should settle the lawsuit immediately and here is why:

What does Kesha want? Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she wants two things: 1) to not have to work under the shadow of Dr. Luke; and 2) to make a substantial amount of money off of her hit music. There is a way that she can do both.

1) Dr. Luke’s Shadow

Both Sony AND Dr. Luke have expressed an interest in setting up Kesha to record music without Dr. Luke’s direct involvement. Now, you might wonder if maybe she wouldn’t REALLY be free of Dr. Luke, that maybe he would still play mind games with her and try to use their contractual ties to screw with her. But, Kesha can negotiate a new contract with Dr. Luke and Sony as part of a settlement agreement. Kesha can agree that Dr. Luke still gets an exorbitant share of the direct proceeds from sales and streams of her songs, and that he would hold the copyright in the sound recordings and any mechanicals for her song-writing. Dr. Luke will be happy because he is still allowed to take Kesha to the cleaners. Meanwhile, Kesha can truly be free of Dr. Luke. All she has to do is send the royalty checks his way, and she would have no other contractual obligations.

And that, of course brings us to the big Q:

2) Money

How can Kesha make a substantial amount of money off of her music if Dr. Luke gets it all? Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Dr. Luke owns the copyrights in both the mechanicals (songwriting) AND actual sound recording for all of Kesha’s work, and that he is not contractually obligated to give her a dime from sales, streaming, radio airplay, or from licensing deals with ad companies and video game manufacturers (for example).

First, copyright law reserves 45% of the royalties for licensing of sound recordings for the ACTUAL ARTIST, regardless of whether the artist has assigned the copyright to someone else. This is applicable to things like streaming and radio royalties. So, that ensures Kesha a small minimum chunk of the pie.

Second, artists don’t actually make very much money from streaming and sales. They make their money from touring. This is how Adele, who is arguably the most successful artist since 2010 by actual album sales (but who didn’t go on tour), had a net worth of just $50m prior to the release of 25 (which has since climbed to about $75m), while artists like Lady Gaga and Madonna have been known to pull in more cash in a single year (like 2013, when the two made $80m and $125, respectively) while they are on tour.

Let’s put this in perspective: Thanks to a high-profile court case, we happen to know that “Blurred Lines” (the biggest hit of 2013) pulled in $16,675,690 in total direct profits, of which, $5,658,214 went to the primary artist, Robin Thicke. Another $5,153,457 went to Pharrell Williams, $707,774 went to T.I., and the rest went to various record companies. So, $11m (adjusted from 2013 dollars) is basically the ceiling amount that an artist can make from a single song.

From sales alone, a hit single that sells 3m copies at $1.29/each would likely net a recording artist about $400,000. A hit album that sells 1m copies at $10/each would net a recording artist about $1m. A similar chunk goes to the songwriters, who may be the same or different people. For every person who buys an album or a single, the artist recoups just $1 or $0.10, respectively (about 10%). Streaming is even less lucrative

Concert tickets can sell for $50 or $100, and artists are likely to pocket a much larger percentage of the proceeds (perhaps 30% or more). Madonna’s MDNA tour grossed $305m, which spurred the bulk of Madonna’s estimated $125m salary that year.

Suppose that Kesha gets back to work and records a few more albums to close out her concert. By creating hit singles now, she is generating a touring audience in the future. Some of the top touring acts of 2015 are bands that haven’t released new hits in years or even decades. The Eagles made $73.5m in 2014, for example. 

Conclusion: Kesha can still make tons of money off of touring, even if Dr. Luke gets everything else. She needs to get back in the studio to keep recording hits ASAP, if she wants to be a massive touring force in decades to come. Further, the judge is probably not going to ever grant relief. She should cut her losses, and negotiate the best deal that she can with Dr. Luke. Then, she should focus on getting through the rest of her contractual albums as quickly as she can.

BTW – Apparently Dr. Luke’s contract with Sony is about to expire. If people really believe he is an abusive rapist, maybe they should be pressuring Sony to #FreeDrLuke instead.

Kelly Clarkson – 15 years after giving birth to a storied music career, American Idol has once more given life to Kelly Clarkson. After bursting into tears while performing “Piece by Piece” on the show (presumably partly because the song is very personal to her, and partly because she is “very pregnant,” as she put it), Kelly Clarkson’s current single shot to the top of the iTunes chart. The video of her Idol performance has accumulated over 5 million views over the course of about a day.

This is all the more meaningful when you consider that “Piece by Piece,” the last single off of Kelly Clarkson’s least-commercially-successful album to date, never even charted on the Hot 100 during its initial run. Its music video only had about 2.8 million total views prior to the American Idol performance (it has added about another million views since). Compare the lead single, “Heartbeat Song,” which has 46,289,484 million views (after peaking at #21 on the Hot 100, and 2012 #1 hit “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” which has 183,766,707 views.

So, how many copies should we expect “Piece by Piece” to sell, and where should we expect to see it on the Hot 100? 

In the few hours of the tracking week that remained after the performance on Thursday, Clarkson sold about 9,000 copies of her song. That may not be enough for a debut near the bottom of the Hot 100. For comparison: Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream” debuted at #82 in January based on 1.7 million streams and 30,000 sales (and negligible radio airplay); the same week, Lukas Graham’s “7 Years” debuted at #96 on the basis of minimal airplay and 15,000 sales.

Clarkson’s song is currently selling about 60% more copies/hour than the #2 song on iTunes (at peak, it was nearly double), Rihanna’s “Work,” which is itself in the middle of its Youtube bounce (from releasing a new video). Clarkson’s song is selling 2.5 times as many copies/hour as Flo Rida’s “My House,” which has maintained stable sales and was, until recently, the #1 song on iTunes. “My House” sold 126,000 copies in the tracking week ending 2/25. So, if Kelly’s song kept up its current pace all week (which it obviously won’t do), we would expect it to sell 315,000 copies (possibly enough for a #1 debut on the Hot 100). By that estimate, we should assume that Kelly has already sold approximately 90,000 copies over the course of 2/26 and 2/27. I expect her sales to fall to about 1/3 of their current level by the end of the tracking week, yielding a reasonable estimate of about 200,000 sales over the course of the week.

Prediction: 200,000 sales; top 5 debut on the Hot 100.

Since several other hits in the top 5 of the Hot 100 are selling around 100,000/week, their massive streaming and radio airplay make it difficult to predict where Kelly Clarkson’s song will end up between #s 2 and 5.

Taylor Swift – released a new single, “New Romantics,” literally days after I predicted the end of her single run. #fail

Luckily, I still have a pretty decent track record with predictions overall. Examples?

1) About 1 year ago, I predicted that the Presidential race would come down to Rubio v. Clinton. Clinton is very likely to win the democratic nomination (she just has to hold out past Super Tuesday– next Tuesday). Meanwhile Rubio is the second-most-likely Republican nominee.

On the other hand, #whichhillary is apparently now trending on twitter, and I wouldn’t put it past Trump to ruin everything just to spite me.

On the other other hand, Hillary is up 24.1% in RCP’s polling average in South Carolina. It is virtually inconceivable that Bernie could close that gap, short of a major sex scandal. Hah. A victory in South Carolina tomorrow precludes the twitter hashtag from blowing up enough to seriously damage Clinton prior to next Tuesday, when she is slated to win almost every state and pick up a veritable slew of delegates. Add that to the 434 delegate lead that she has already amassed (largely due to pledged superdelegates), and it becomes difficult to see a path for Sanders to stop Hillary from reaching the 2,383 needed to win the nomination.

2) While the stock market has had a rough half-year, starting with the whole China fiasco last August, my personal portfolio has managed a 3.6% overall return. [Aside: How does a law student have a stock portfolio? I reinvest my student loans until I need them. Wealthfront allows free computer-algorithm-based investing on up to $5000–or $10,000 if you sign up using my referral code, by following this short-link: http://wlth.fr/1Xfyole].

Rihanna – “Work” rises to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Rihanna her 14th leader on the list — passing Michael Jackson (not counting the Jackson 5’s 4 #1s) to have the 3rd most #1s of all time, after only the Beatles and Mariah Carey with 20 and 18 respectively.

NOTE: Elvis had several huge hits before the Hot 100’s inception. If we include #1s by groups that included a given artist, then Paul McCartney takes a clear lead with 29 total #1s.

Impressively, “Work” rose to #1 without the benefit of its music video, which was released this Monday. With continued strong radio airplay (#6 radio songs; 107.079m/week, +2.498m today), exploding sales (>174K, +>46%), and the streaming boom inherent in a new music video, Rihanna should solidify her position for a possibly lengthy stay atop the Hot 100. Note particularly that Rihanna’s US Spotify streams have actually increased since the release of her Youtube music video. They now stand at 1.723m/day, much higher than runner-up Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” at 1.050m/day, and more than double Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” which was #1 on last week’s Hot 100.

So what songs could challenge “Work?” #s 2-4 on the Hot 100 (“Love Yourself,” “Stressed Out,” and “Sorry“) are all near or past their peaks, so Rihanna’s strong lead should preclude them from being a threat. Flo Rida’s “My House,” G-Easy x Bebe Rexha’s “Me, Myself & I,” and Selena Gomez’s “Hands to Myself” are all on the rise at #s 5, 8, and 11 respectively, but it is unclear that any of them will have sufficient momentum to make a serious challenge. As likely as not, the next #1 song is not even on our radar yet. “Work” might be in for the long haul. 

Adele – 25 has become one of the world’s 100 best-selling albums of all time as it closes in on 17 million. The biggest-selling album of all time is Michael Jackson’s Thriller with over 66 million. At #2 and #3 are Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and the Grease soundtrack with 42 million and 40 million respectively. Adele’s prior album, 21, has sold over 26 million copies worldwide, with 11 million of that in the United States. 25 has already sold 8.257 million copies in the United States.

Lady Gaga – With all of the positive press Gaga has received since late 2015, and with Youtube’s recent methodology change, the daily view-count for “Poker Face” has skyrocketed from just over 100,000/day in early 2015 to nearly 400,000/day in the months surrounding the turn of 2016. “Bad Romance” saw a similar increase over the same time frame, but started and ended a little higher.

By the way, when Gaga performs at the Oscars tomorrow, she will officially become the first person EVER to perform at 1) the Super Bowl, 2) the Oscars, and 3) the Grammys — all in the same calendar year.

Katy Perry – “Dark Horse” has now crossed the 1.3 BILLION view mark on Youtube. Along with “Roar,” it gives Katy Perry claim to 10% of the 20 videos that have passed the billion-view mark. Only Katy Perry and Taylor Swift have more than one video that has a billion views. However, Psy’s “Gentleman,” Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” each have over 850 million views.

Most-Viewed Youtube videos (in billions):

2.526 – “Gangnam Style” – Psy (NOTE: Another official music video for “Gangnam Style” has 0.624B additional views, for a total of 3.149B)

1.498 – “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth

1.497 – “Blank Space” Taylor Swift

1.405 – “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars

1.354 – “Shake it Off” – Taylor Swift

1.317 – “Baby” – Justin Bieber

1.309 – “Bailando” – Enrique Iglesias (NOTE: English version has an additional 0.175B views, for a total of 1.483B)

1.307 – “Dark Horse” – Katy Perry feat. Juicy J

1.283 – “All About That Base” – Meghan Trainor

1.277 – “Roar” – Katy Perry

1.242 – “Hello” – Adele

1.229 – “Wheels on the Bus” – LittleBabyBum

1.170 – “Lean On” – Major Lazer and DJ Snake feat. MO

1.166 – “Recipe for Disaster” Masha and the Bear (Russian version) (NOT A MUSIC VIDEO)

1.159 – “Chandelier” – Sia

1.158 – “Counting Stars” – OneRepublic

1.093 – “Sugar” – Maroon 5

1.038 – “Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO

1.029 – “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” – Shakira

1.026 – “Love the Way You Lie” – Eminem feat. Rihanna


Trivia Question

Last Week’s Question: Last summer, Taylor Swift managed the rare feat of debuting at #1 on the Hot 100 with the fourth single off of her album. It was no accident. In fact, it was due to a series of carefully calibrated strategic moves on the part of Swift and/or her label. Name one part of Swift’s ingenious strategy, and explain how it helped.

  1. Adding a featured artist to allow fans to justify repurchase of the single after they had already bought the album.
  2. Releasing an epic music video and running a massive media hype machine in advance.
  3. NOT shooting down Katy Perry feud rumors… but not denying them either.

This Week: Lady Gaga has been drafted to sing at the Super Bowl and the Grammys, both within the next two weeks. Last year, when Katy Perry performed the Super Bowl Half Time Show, she brought out a surprise guest. Do you remember who that guest was?

Bonus point if you know the name and peak position on the Hot 100 of the only single she has since released.





This Week RECAP: END OF TAYLOR SWIFT, Saara, Grammy Bumps: Weeknd, Adele, Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Zayn, & Haley Reinhart

In this issue of This Week RECAP, we will say goodbye to Taylor Swift for a few years. Then, we will look at a stunning new Justin Bieber cover song from Finnish Youtube sensation, Saara, before recapping Grammy bumps and the battle between new singles by Rihanna and ex-One Directioner Zayn Malik. We’ll close by congratulating Haley Reinhart on her latest accomplishment. 

THE END OF TAYLOR SWIFT – Don’t expect any new music from Taylor Swift for a while. It appears that “Out of the Woods” is the last single she will be promoting off of 1989, and for the first time in a decade, Taylor will not be releasing an album in the fall of an even year.

We know that she is planning on taking a break after the 1989 Tour because she said so. But it would be perfectly reasonable for you to wonder why I think “Out of the Woods” is the last single she will be promoting. The answer: I have been looking at radio trends and concluded that Taylor’s label has stopped PROMOTING “Out of the Woods.” Now why would they do that?

Radio Trends – First let’s take a peak at the performance of Taylor’s prior singles.

Shake It Off” stayed in the Top 2 of the Hot 100 for twelve weeks, including 4 weeks (at the edges) at #1. Radio peak: #1 (195.5m/week). Current radio performance: #104 (18.021m/week).

Blank Space” dethroned “Shake it Off” and maintained the pole position for 6 consecutive weeks. Radio peak: #1 (198.131m/week). Current radio performance: #101 (19.830m/week).

Style” peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 on relatively weak Youtube streams and weak sales (after everyone and their dog already owned 1989). But on radio songs, it still climbed to a #3 peak (178.862m/week). And, it is currently outperforming the two earlier singles and later single “Bad Blood” on radio at #85 (23.825m/week).

Bad Blood” spent a single debut frame at #1 on the hot 100 on the strength of strong sales and streams (from a high-budget music video and a remixed version of the single featuring Kendrick Lamar). Then, it spent an additional 5 weeks at #2, stuck behind Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again.” Radio peak: #1 (195.179m/week). Current radio performance: #128 (14.696m/week).

Wildest Dreams” peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. Radio peak: #1 (180.290m/week). Current radio performance: #13 (76.006m/week).

Out of the Woods” peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 on the strength of strong sales when it was released as a promotional single for 1989. During its current radio run as an actual single, it has peaked at #44. Radio peak: #18 (68.848m/week). Current radio performance: #25 (62.822m/week).

You KNOW there is something off about this pattern.

When it was first released as a single, “Out of the Woods” looked much like any of Taylor’s prior singles, numerically, albeit a bit weaker. It started with 5 million first-day Youtube views. It was consistently one of the greatest gainers at radio. Sales were weak, because everyone already owned 1989. But I was expecting the single to still rise up to at least 150 million radio audience impressions/week, just as all of the prior singles had, and to thereby peak at or near the top of the radio chart.

Everything looked swell until “Out of the Woods” suddenly stopped growing at radio, only halfway up the chart. In fact, never reached HALF of the radio airplay of Taylor’s next weakest 1989 song to date, and this after every other single had consistently reached a narrow band of 178m-198m audience impressions/week. There is nothing wrong with “Out of the Woods.” It sounds quite a bit like “Style” and “Wildest Dreams,” with no substantial or obvious differences in quality or hit potential. So, why on Earth would a song by one of the biggest pop stars on the planet right now so suddenly turn around on radio?

Last week, I wondered if Taylor Swift had any real impetus to continue releasing singles off of 1989, if they would be medium-large radio/streaming hits with weak sales. Who bears the costs of promoting a single to radio? The record label. How much does it cost to promote a song all the way to the top? I think Taylor’s label noticed that she has (they have) nothing to gain at this point from a hit single aside from the accompanying sales. If the sales alone aren’t enough to justify the promotion, then maybe the label simply cut the cord and stopped bothering with it?

Now, assuming that the label is no longer promoting her song to radio, what does that say about the prospects of a seventh high quality music video, and accompanying promotion of another single to radio? The chances are slim.

Conclusion – Don’t expect another single from 1989, and don’t expect another album any time soon. This is the end of one of the biggest runs that the music industry has ever seen. What will become of Taylor? Will she come back and release more music in a few years? Will her fans still be waiting? Will the country still be interested in her work the way it is now? Or is this the end of the saga of Taylor Swift as superstar? Is everything downhill for her from hear on out?

Saara – Saara is a Finnish girl who became youtube-famous for speaking perfect gibberish in essentially all the languages on Earth. Anyways, she is trying to break into the music industry. She has serious chops, but her videos have frequently been extremely… youtube. Anyways, she finally got her act together and released a legitimate, serious cover version of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” and it’s actually REALLY good, ESPECIALLY at the parts where it is most important.

Expected Grammy Bumps — or Rather, the LACK thereof! 

The Weeknd & Adele – Oh, where to begin. After an underwhelming performance, The Weeknd’s current single, “In the Night,” is apparently only looking at a 45% sales bump (21K – 31K), barely enough to cover radio airplay that is dropping like a rock (#5; 120m/week, -1.294m today; down from a peak of over 135m/week). Maybe that will be enough to pull it into the top 10 from its current #14 perch, but it’s a bit more uncertain now.

As for Adele, she didn’t even BOTHER to perform “When We Were Young” (which is sitting at #20 on the Hot 100 and #10 on radio with 95.679m/week, +0.395m today). Instead, she used the platform to promote presumed next single “All I Ask,” which, by the way, didn’t reach #1 on iTunes. After an underwhelming performance plagued by technical problems, the song missed the iTunes top 5, and will be debuting on the Hot 100 with fewer sales than “Hello” is still getting, months after its peak.

Hello,” meanwhile, is still in the iTunes top 10 more than 4 months after its record-smashing release last year. The success of “Hello,” which already has 1.18 BILLION views on Youtube just goes to show what Adele can accomplish when she puts in effort, releases a legitimate music video, and promotes her work. The mediocre performance of “When We Were Young” and “All I Ask” is the result of Adele NOT releasing a music video or promoting her work effectively.

The Most-Facebooked Event of the Night? Lady Gaga’s superfan tribute to David Bowie.

Rihanna – Riri did NOT show up for her Grammy performance due to health issues! That means she gets no Grammy boost! Luckily, releasing her song for streaming pushed her up into the top 5 anyways. Also “Work” is still rocketing up radio with 2m+ additional weekly audience impressions/day, and is now up to 84.315m/week. However, it is only appearing on three formats: Pop, Rhythmic, and Urban. Why isn’t it charting on Adult Pop, Adult Contemporary, Latin Urban, or Spanish yet? None of the top six radio songs overall are charting on fewer than 5 formats, so if Rihanna is going to make it to the top, she will eventually have to cross over to a few more formats.

Beyonce – speaking of crossing over, Beyonce’s new song, “Formation,” has been rocketing up Rhythmic, Urban, and Urban AC, but it has yet to appear on EITHER Pop OR Adult Pop after more than 1 week of release. It is obviously not going to appear on country radio, so its ascent is clearly handicapped by Pop’s boycott. Even if it were to reach #1 on all three of its current formats simultaneously, it would still only have about 70 million audience impressions/week and be ranked at around #19 overall on radio songs.

“Formation” is currently at #74 overall on radio (+3; 29.264m/week, +0.986m today). It is also #25 on Rhythmic (+0; 9.959m/week, -0.047m today; 1182 spins/week, +71 today); #15 on Urban (+3; 17.991m/week, +0.969m today (greatest gainer); 1902 spins/week, +147 today (greatest spincrease)); and #44 on Urban AC (-1; 0.662m/week, +0.018m today; 69 spins/week, +4 today).

Zayn – Zayn (formerly of One Direction)’s “Pillowtalk” (#19 on Pop, +2; 34.982m/week, +1.879m today; 5956 spins/week, +275), which was released within about 24 hours of Rihanna’s “Work” (#20 on Pop, -1; 33.423m/week, +0.944m today; 5908 spins/week, +150 today), just passed it on pop radio, even as “Work” (#12 overall, +0 today; 84.315m/week, +2.119m today) retains a massive lead on overall radio over “Pillowtalk” (#54 overall, +7 today; 39.088m/week, +2.235m today). The difference? Rihanna pulls in 23 million audience impressions per week from her #6 position on Rhythmic (Zayn is at #34 on that chart with 2.5m/week) and another 23 million weekly audience impressions from her #8 post on Urban. Zayn’s song appears on the charts of no other formats. On streaming and sales, the two songs are pretty evenly matched, with the edge to Rihanna on both.

But, note that Zayn’s song has accelerated, and it is now growing at a slightly faster clip than Rihanna’s “Work.” Will “Work” stay two steps ahead of “Pillowtalk” throughout their chart lives, or does “Pillowtalk” have a chance to eventually catch up?

Haley Reinhart – “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is still growing on Adult Pop, and it reaches a new milestone on overall radio songs, as it is set to pass a running tally of 5 million audience impressions/week by tomorrow. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is currently charting at #33 on Adult Pop and #23 on Adult Contemporary, after it featured as the centerpiece for a viral ad campaign for Extra Gum, which now has over 18 million views on Youtube. It is expected to be featured on Haley’s upcoming second solo studio album.


Answer to last week’s question: What artist has had the largest CONSECUTIVE run at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 over the past two years (including on different songs)? Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” ruled the Hot 100 for 14 weeks in early 2015. Honorable mention to Taylor Swift (“Blank Space” & “Shake it Off” — 9 weeks consecutive, 11 weeks total, but “Shake it Off” spent an additional 8 weeks in a virtual tie with “All About that Base,” thereby coming oh so close to having 19 consecutive weeks at #1, or almost 5 months), Adele (“Hello” — 10 weeks), Pharrell  Williams (“Happy” — 10 weeks), The Weeknd (“Can’t Feel My Face” & “The Hills” — 7 weeks, but “Can’t Feel My Face” had previously spent 2 of the previous 5 weeks at #1 — The Weeknd also managed to spend 45 straight weeks in the top ten, 4th best all-time), Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth (“See You Again” — 12 weeks @ #1 but non-consecutive; interrupted by Taylor Swift’s record-breaking “Bad Blood” debut), Iggy Azalea (“Fancy” — 7 weeks), Magic! (“Rude” — 6 weeks), Meghan Trainor (“All About that Base” — 8 weeks), and Justin Bieber (“What do You Mean,” “Sorry,” & “Love Yourself” — 6 non-consecutive weeks, but spread among 3 straight #1 singles, with 24 straight weeks of having a top 10 single).

This week’s question: Last summer, Taylor Swift and her team executed a carefully calibrated multi-prong strategy to get “Bad Blood” to become an instant #1 single, despite being released in the middle (peak) of “See You Again”‘s massive 12-week reign. Name one prong of that strategy.




Weekly Recap: The Weeknd, Twenty One Pilots, Hot 100 #1 Battle, Justin Bieber, Haley Reinhart, Adam Lambert, Adele, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Rihanna

As Rebecca Black once “sang,” to all of our entertainment, IT’S FRIDAY. Because, I mean, yesterday I think it WAS Thursday. And tomorrow is Saturday. And Sunday comes… afterward… If I can keep my days straight, I believe that Monday is the next one, right? Or was it Tuesday? Oh the travails of very-early-onset Alzheimers.

Obviously, it’s time for a weekly recap of what to watch in the music industry.

10) The Weeknd

In the Night” appears to have peaked at #5 on radio songs, as it is now clearly shedding airplay. After taking home a 4th place trophy for pulling off 45 consecutive weeks of having a single in the top 10 of the Hot 100, the question was whether The Weeknd‘s “In the Night” could continue the trend with the buzz of its music video release. It missed the top 10, peaking at #12 (Youtube streams were pretty wimpy… relatively, of course), and the question became whether it could reach the top ten at all on the strength of gradually building airplay. Now that its airplay has peaked, that finally appears impossible.

Except… he has been nominated for six Grammys this year (including Record and Album of the year) and he is slated to perform. We should probably expect a pretty big Grammy bump, at least in terms of sales. Will it be enough to vault The Weeknd back into the top 10? Maybe… Probably. We’ll just have to wait and see.

9) Twenty One Pilots

“Stressed Out” is actually not that far behind Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” in terms of radio airplay, and it is now growing at a substantially faster pace. “Stressed Out” could reach #1 on the Hot 100.

What am I watching? Global Youtube streams for “Stressed Out” are only at 1 million/day. Compare that to “Love Yourself”‘s 4 million/day. In terms of actual US streams and from all services, “Love Yourself” has more like a 40% lead on “Stressed Out” (still seriously problematic, since streaming is the most heavily-weighted component of Billboard’s charts).

8) Drake v. Zayn Malik v. Rihanna v. Justin Bieber

There is literally a four-way battle brewing for the top of the next Hot 100. Drake, Zayn Malik, and Rihanna all released massive new singles; meanwhile, Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” maintains massive streaming, and decent streaming as it nears the top slot on Radio Songs.

Estimated figures:

Drake – “Summer Sixteen” – 215K sales, 9.5m radio, 2m (?) (Drake’s song is only available for streaming via Apple, and it is not yet charting on any radio airplay charts; however, Billboard reported 3.4 million radio audience impressions in the first three days of the tracking week.)

Rihanna (feat. Drake) – “Work” – 163K sales, 48m radio, 10m streams (?) (Rihanna’s single is not available on YouTube or Spotify, and Tidal has not released streaming figures. However, Billboard reported 2.2 million first-day streams.).

Zayn – “Pillowtalk” – 250K sales, 14m radio, 17m streams

Bieber – “Love Yourself” – 105K sales, 140m radio, 15.8m streams

My bet? Zayn appears to have the edge with “Pillowtalk.” This guess is partly because the chart-formula was just rebalanced to give more weight towards sales, but leaving streaming as the biggest component.

7) Justin Bieber

Replaced himself atop the Hot 100. 5th week atop Artist 100.


6) Haley Reinhart

She’s reversing course on AC and finally starting to fall off with “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Slow growth on HAC, where she has now reached #34.

5) Adam Lambert

Adam finally dropped off of Pop songs altogether, and he has seemingly reversed course on HAC after peaking at #23. He is currently at #24 on the chart, with no daily spin gain or loss. Essentially, Adam’s single is done with its regular chart run. It is time to either A) pull a fabulous stunt and turn “Another Lonely Night” into the new official ballad of SINGLES AWARENESS DAY 2016; or B) start promoting “The Original High” so that it can have a legit chance to conquer the summer!

NOTE: Several years after Adam rooted for Haley on her season of American Idol, their paths are about to cross in terms of radio airplay. Adam is stalled/dropping from just over 4 million weekly audience impressions, while Haley’s song is just approaching the 4 million mark. Both artists are producing great music and proving that they will have staying power in the music industry (Adam was recently named the top-earning American Idol alum of 2015 with an estimated $10m income from various projects; Haley has now been the subject of multiple viral Youtube sensations over the course of 2015 and just made her TV debut as the voiceover of an animated young boy on the Netflix original, “F is For Family.”

4) Adele

“When We Were Young” is reversing track on radio airplay. It has basically stalled at #11. It needs a music video or Grammy performance with a little bit of Adele sparkle dust to give it a stimulus, or Adele needs to release a new single. Why? 25 sales are lagging behind projections. Basically, 25 is falling into Taylor Swift’s 1989 pattern, after spending its first five weeks steadily 3X 1989. I think we would all like to see Adele keep selling massive numbers of records and keep breaking records. So, WAKE UP, Adele. Snap your fingers and make the magic happen! ;P

3) Selena Gomez

VAULTS into Top 10 with new single “Hands to Myself” (with both the biggest gains in streams and digital sales for the week). “Hands to Myself” is the third single off of Revival, but Selena doesn’t seem to be slowing down. She previously reached #6 with two prior singles: “Come & Get It” and “The Heart Wants What it Wants” (and, including her work as Selena Gomez & the Scene, the Top 40 (none higher than #20) with 6 singles). With Revival, Selena has reached the ranks of #5-#7 with all three singles to-date, basically making her prior albums look amateurish. BTW, I’m digging the new music.

What am I watching? Will “Hands to Myself” hit the same radio peak as prior singles, or is it just popping into the top ten for a superficial visit? I’ve also noticed that “Hands to Myself” has a remarkable initial Youtube bump (topping 4 million/day for a few days), but that it has since fallen to (what appears to be a sustainable) 1m/day. It will be interesting to see whether it keeps deflating, and it will be interesting to see if the strong views are an indication of relative strength, or whether they are simply due to the steamy content.

2) Lady Gaga 

Gaga is about to set a new record: She will be the first person EVER, within a single calendar year, to sing at: 1) the Super Bowl; 2) the Grammys; and 3) the Oscars. Meanwhile, she just WON a Golden Globe for her performance as the star of American Horror Story: Hotel (to which she is presumably returning for another season), and she is NOMINATED for BOTH a Grammy AND an Oscar. To top it off, her passion project, “Til It Happens to You” (which is responsible for her Oscar and Grammy nominations) is legitimately scaling an airplay chart, as she rises 26-23 today on Adult Contemporary (the third-greatest gainer by spins).

What am I watching for? LG5. Gaga is reportedly planning on dropping an album this year. Gaga’s last (pop) album, 2013’s Artpop, was lampooned as a flop (relative to her prior albums), but it was still the 9th best-selling album of 2013, and its debut sales week (258,000) was comparable to those of contemporaneous albums by Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Plus, Lady Gaga is hot right now. She feels confident. And, quite honestly, Lady Gaga can really throw a punch in the music industry when she is feeling it. I can feel a storm brewing, and I will be fascinated to see what Lady Gaga drops next.

1) Rihanna

One of the biggest stories on the internet right now is how Rihanna’s new album was just certified platinum (representing 1 million sales) after about 14 HOURS of sales (Tidal claims to have moved over 1.4 million units, with 484,833 of them actual sales); and yet Neilson Soundscan officially reported first-week sales of only 460 copies. It’s not ACTUALLY a mystery: 1) Samsung bought and gave away 1 million copies for free, which Billboard and Neilson didn’t count but RIAA did. 2) Tidal was apparently reporting worldwide sales. And, 3) the sales started on the last day of the tracking week.

But, then, the question is whether Rihanna’s album is a “success.” I can report unequivocally that this is probably Rihanna’s single MOST successful album (as ALBUM, not necessarily as compilation of singles) to date. 1) Despite an insane number of massive singles (she already has the same number of #1 hits as Michael Jackson) Rihanna has only moved more than 2 million units (in the USA) of ONE of her seven prior albums, and neither of her two most recent releases has sold more than about 1.2 million copies TOTAL (in the USA). Free giveaway or not, Rihanna basically just brought her album to a par level of distribution in 14 hours–that’s impressive. Tack on the fact that it is still actually going through a legitimate sales run (it is slated to easily top the Billboard 200 in its second week [first full week] with about 125,000 incontrovertible pure album sales, plus massive streams and sales of lead single, “Work”), and the massive success of lead single, “Work” (which already debuted at #9 on the Hot 100 after a fraction of a week, and should challenge for a spot at or near the top of the chart after its first full week of sales, airplay, and streaming are factored in).

What am I watching for? How many albums will Anti sell? How will sales hold up over time? Will Rihanna find success with other singles on the album, or will it go the way of Beyonce (pitiful singles sales after everyone already bought the album)? It has become clear that “Work” will be a legitimate Top 5 hit for Rihanna, but can it make it to #1, either now or later? It is radio’s greatest gainer today, so it might reach number one after a few weeks of strong radio growth, even if it doesn’t make it based on initial sales.

Trivia Question

Every week, the first reader to post a correct answer in the comments section will get a point. I will keep a running scoreboard and post the answers with the next week’s trivia question.

  1. Adele’s “Hello” recently set a record for being the only song to ever sell more then 1,000,000 DOWNLOADS in a single week. What song holds the record for the largest weekly singles tally OVERALL, including both digital AND physical single sales?


Adele’s 25 – 5,706,000 Official WW Copies First Week

25 Sales in some of the largest markets –
USA 3,377,900 (Nielsen Music) (3.48 million including track and stream equivalent album sales)
Japan 13,000 (Oricon)
United Kingdom 800,300 (OCC)
Germany 263,000 (GfK)
France 169,700 (SNEP)
Canada 305,900 (Nielsen Music)
Australia 126,100 (ARIA)
Italy 46,000 (FIMI)

25 broke first-week sales records in the U.K. and the USA. It went triple platinum in both the US and Australia. Overall, it sold 5,706,000 copies in its first week, instantly becoming the best-selling album of the year (both in the USA AND globally).

In the United States, the prior one-week sales record was held by NSYNC’s No Strings Attached, which bowed with 2.4 million in 2000, at the height of the CD and boy bands, and before streaming and pirating ravaged the music industry. At a time when the album is practically dead, Adele rose from the ashes and completely decimated NSYNC’s record.

What’s more, no album has EVER sold more than 1 million copies before in more than one week. Adele is now poised to do just that. Taylor Swift has been roundly praised for being the only artist to bring three albums to debut with million+ weeks, and for being the only artist not named Adele or Lady Gaga to debut with 1m+ since 2006. But Taylor Swift’s albums each debuted with just over 1 million. 1989 is her strongest of the three, and it debuted with only 1.28 million. In other words, Adele is now poised to do in her SECOND WEEK what everyone is amazed that anyone can still do in their first week.

Last year, the Frozen album was #1 for 13 weeks, and kept selling records all year long. It was the top-selling album of the year for every week until the very last week of the year, when Taylor Swift’s 1989 barely eclipsed it. Both albums ended up with about 3.5 million copies sold in the entire year. (Note: in 2013, the top-selling album was Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, with only 2.43 million; Adele’s 21 was the best-selling album of 2011 (5.82 m) and 2012(4.41 m)). Thus, Adele’s 1-week total is within spitting distance of the total yearly sales of the biggest-selling album of 2014.

How many copies will 25 sell by the end of this year? HitsDailyDouble.com is currently predicting that it will sell over 7 million copies by years’ end. In order to sell more than both Frozen (3.53m) and 1989 (3.66m) put together, it will need to sell 7.19 million copies. Billboard estimates that it has already sold 4.2 million copies in less than two weeks. So, it would need to sell another 3 million copies over the next 4 weeks, for an AVERAGE of 750,000 copies/week.

Can Adele sell over 1 million copies in THREE weeks (namely, the week right before Christmas)? Maybe. Regardless, it is now clear that Adele has successfully followed up 21 (which was recently named the top Billboard 200 album of all time, ahead of even Thriller and The Sound of Music) with a comparable global smash. And that, is seriously an accomplishment.


Update: second week sales for 25 are finalized at 1,021,558. I have adjusted figures in my projections accordingly. I would also like to point out the remarkable accuracy of my 1.025 million running projection… ;P

Here are current projections from hitsdailydouble.com:

Week 47 –  3,377,900 (debut)

Week 48 – 1m

Week 49 – 600k

Week 50 – 800k

Week 51 – 1m

Week 52 – 500k

Year-end projected – ~7,277,900

I find these projections generally reasonable. But Hits thinks it is a conservative estimate, and I agree. I also want Adele to have a record 3 million+ sales weeks, however, so I am going to bump up all of the numbers by a 25,000 err0r margin.

Week 47 –  3,377,900 (debut)

Week 48 – 1.025m

Week 49 – 625k

Week 50 – 825k

Week 51 – 1.025m

Week 52 – 525k

Year-end projected – ~7,402,900

Then, let’s assume that sales in 2016 follow close to the same pattern for Adele’s 25 as they did for Taylor Swift’s 1989. Here is what Adele’s sales might look like:

Key: Week # Last day of tracking week  – Projected Adele sales based on Taylor Swift sales, +/-% (Taylor Swift figures in parenthesis for comparison, +/-%) (additional explanatory parentheticals) [Actual figures as they come in updated in brackets; *indicates sales figure is from HitsDailyDouble, rather than the slightly more authoritative Billboard/Soundscan #s (which come out later if they are released at all), +/-%].

Week 44 11/5 – NA (1,287,000, debut)

Week 45 11/12 – NA (402,000, -69%)

Week 46 11/19 – NA (312,000, -22%)

Week 47 11/26 – 3,377,900, debut (212,839, -32%) [3,377,900]

Week 48 12/3 – 1,047,149, -69% (281,000, +32%) [1,021,558*, -70%]

Week 49 12/10 – 816,776, -22% (230,000, -18%)

Week 50 12/17 – 825k, +1% (278,000, +21%)

Week 51 12/24 – 1.025m, +24% (331,000, +19%)

Week 52 12/31 – 525,000, -49% (326,000, -2%)

Year End – 7,616,825 (3.66 million) (difference: 3,956,825; Adele +108.1%)

Week 1, 1/7 – 341,250, -35% (172,000, -47%)

Week 2 1/14 – 279,825, -18% (111,000, -35%) 1/14

Week 3 1/21 – 248,205, -11.3% (92,000, -18%)

Week 4 1/28 – 215,938, -13% (81,609, -11.3%) (1 million track and streaming equivalents expected)

Week 5 2/4 – 187,866, -13% (71,000, -13%)

Week 6 2/11 – 204,023, +8.6% (77,132 +8.6%) (10,293,932 total track equivalent album sales for diamond certification; 9,093,932 pure album sales)

Week 7 2/18 – 244,419, +19.6% (92,430, +19.8%)

Week 8 2/25 – 144,696, -40.8% (55,618, -40.8%) 2/25

Week 9 3/3 – 123,136, -14.9% (47,381, -14.9%)

Week 10 3/10 – 109,591, -11% (42,189, -11%)

Week 11 3/17 – 99,180, -9.5% (38,200, -9.5%)

Week 12 3/24 – 89,163, -10.1% (34,341, -10.1%)

Week 13 3/31 – 86,399 -3.1% (33,292, -3.1%)

Week 14 4/7 – 101,346, +17.3% (39,038, +17.3%) (10,091,862 total copies; diamond certification in USA in pure album sales)

Week 15 4/14 – 69,726, -31.2% (26,845, -31.2%)

Week 16 4/21 – 62,056, -11% (23,898, -11%)

Week 17 4/28 – 61,125, -1.5% (23,534, -1.5%)

Week 18 5/5 – 53,301, -12.8% (20,533, -12.8%) (2,721,245 pure album sales ytd; 10,338,070 total)

Week 19 5/12 – 65,027, +22% (25,094, +22%)

Week 20 5/19 – 55,273, -15% (21,265, -15%)

Week 21 5/26 – 104,466, +89% (40,233, +89%)

Week 22 6/2 – 88,796, -15% (34,248, -15%)

Week 23 6/9 – 88,796, +0% (34,280, +0%)

Week 24 6/16 – 81,693, -8% (31,671, -8%)

Week 25 6/23 – 75,157, -8% (29,116, -8%)

Week 26 6/30 – 75,157, -8% (29,097, +0%)

Week 27 7/7 – 69,896, -7% (26,916, -7%)

*Week 28 7/14 – 75,488, +8% (29,212, +8%)

Week 29 7/21 – 66,429, -12% (25,662, -12%)

Week 30 7/28 – 60,451, -9% (23,425, -9%)

Week 31 8/4 – 52,592, -13% (20,296, -13%)

Week 32 8/11 – 49,962, -5% (19,371, -5%)

Week 33 8/18 – 49,962, -0% (19,293, -0%)

Week 34 8/25 – 45,466, -9% (17,597, -9%)

Week 35 9/1 – 65,471, +44% (25,307, +44%)

Week 36 9/8 – 67,435, +3% (26,074, +3%)

Week 37 9/15 – 54,622, -19% (21,158, -19%)

Week 38 9/22 – 63,908, +17% (24,828, +17%)

Week 39 9/29 – 53,683, -16% (20,343, -16%)

Week 40 10/6 – 49,388, -8% (18,803, -8%)

Week 41 10/13 – 52,845, +7% (20,058, +7%)

Week 42 10/20 – 50,731, -4% (19,213, -4%)

Week 43 10/27 – 45,151, -4% (17,105, -11%)

Week 44 11/3 – 42,442, -6% (17,230, -6%)

Week 45 11/10 -36,924, -13% (15,050, -13%)

Week 46 11/17 – 32,494, -12% (13,012, -12%)

Week 47 11/24 – 65,637, +102% (28,700, +102%)

Week 48 12/1 – 112,896, +72% (51,391, +72%) (another 1,898,238, for 4,619,483 ytd; 12,236,308 total pure album sales)

Week 49 12/8 – 158,054, +40%

Week 50 12/15 – 205,471, +30%

Week 51 12/22 – 287,659, +40%

Week 52 12/29 – 143,830, -50%

Final – 5,414,497, ytd; 13,031,322 total pure album sales

New year: sharpness sales dropoff will likely depend substantially on whether new singles are still being successfully promoted to radio, but it should be expected to drop fairly quickly down at least to the pre-Christmas boom levels. Without current singles, the album would likely stabilize between 20k and 3ok and then drop at a rate of perhaps -10%/week.

Week 1 1/5 – 71,915, -50%

Week 2 1/12 – 43,149, -40%

Week 3 1/19 – 30,204, -30%

Week 4 1/26 – 27,184, -10%

Week 5 2/2 – 26,640, -2%



Adele’s 25 is Blowing Past Sky-High Expectations

Update 11/23/15 – 25 sold 2.3 million copies in its first three days. Billboard’s new estimate: 2.9 million. I still expect over 3.3 million. 

Update 11/23/15 – 25 sold 1.902 million copies in its first two days, including 1.18 million digital copies and 722,000 physical copies. Thus, it is already the best-selling album of the year. Taylor Swift’s 1989 comes in second with 1.7 million.

There was a time not too long ago when the music industry questioned whether anyone not named Taylor Swift would ever sell a million copies of an album in a single week again. Taylor herself had accomplished the feat three times (in a row), more than any other artist in the SoundScan era. In fact, when 1989 was released last year, it was the first album to sell 1 million in a week since Taylor Swift’s 2012 album, Red.

Then Adele happened. 

After nearly doubling the previous sales record for a digital single with the debut of “Hello,” Adele went on to even more completely destroy the digital pre-order record (which was around 200,000) with about 550,000 preorders (200,000 in the first three days!). By that time, it was clear that Adele would indeed sell 1 million copies of 25 in its first week. The question turned to whether Adele could sell 2 million. Fairly early on, I predicted that 25 would sell at least 2 million copies, and I even posited that it would not be at all inconceivable that the album might sell more than 3 million in its first week. Billboard and other industry insiders were more conservative, with early estimates ranging from 1.3 million to 1.8 million. Billboard’s estimate rose to 2-2.5 million just before release. Now, the estimate has shifted up to 2.5-3 million copies.

But Billboard’s estimate is still conservative. 

Billboard’s estimate is based on first-day iTunes sales of 900,000 copies. That presumably includes about 450,000 preorders and 450,000 new orders of the album. Billboard has previously estimated that 25 sold 100,000 non-iTunes preorders, so, if we assume that it also sold 100,000 non-iTunes, non-preorder downloads, then 25 sold approximately 1.1 million digital copies in its first day.

When Billboard and Adele’s label predicted 2.5 million total sales, they were assuming 1 million digital downloads and 1.5 million physical sales. But, if the album has already sold 1.1 million downloads just in its first day, then these estimates are way off.

We don’t yet have any sales data for physical copies of 25 that I am aware of, but if we keep assuming 1.5 million, then the album would sell 2.6 million over the week even without any additional digital sales. The album is going to keep selling digitally. In real terms, the album sold 550,000 copies in its first day. If we assume that it will sell twice that again over the following six days, then we should expect 2.2 million total digital sales. That implies 3.7 million total sales. But, if digital copies of 25 are flying off of digital shelves, then who is to say that physical copies aren’t also flying off of real shelves even faster than expected? Could 25 sell 2 million physical copies? 3.7 million copies were shipped, so there is definitely the potential for more than 1.5 million to be sold in the first week.

At this point, it is not inconceivable that Adele could sell more than 4 million copies of 25 in its first week. 

But, maybe 25 won’t sell another 1.1 million digital copies this week. Maybe it will only sell another 550,000 digitally. Maybe it really will only sell 1.5 million physical copies in its first week. That still leaves us expecting 3.15 million copies sold in the first week, well above Billboard’s current estimate, and well above the current 2.415 million record.


Adele’s album is going to sell a lot of copies. How many?

I am now predicting 3.4675 million.

Why? When I made my initial predictions, I extrapolated data from Taylor Swift’s 1989. I looked at pre-order data, first-week sales of the lead single, and total album sales for the immediately preceding album. Interestingly, total album sales for the immediately preceding album and pre-order data both predicted between 3.3 and 3.6 million first week copies, which is what it now looks like Adele will end up selling. The first-week sales of the first single predicted around 2.6 million copies. It looks like an outlier, and intuitively it seems that it would have less predictive value than the other two stats. Preorder data has an obvious correlation to first-week album sales, and the long-term success of the immediately preceding album has long been known to be one of the best predictors of the magnitude of the initial sales debut bump, since most buyers at that point are basing their decision to purchase on their preconceptions of the kind of music that they will get from the artist. So, I took the flat average of the two data-driven estimates, and noted that it looked eminently reasonable based on my current preconceptions of Adele’s current album sales, and adopted it.

The data don’t lie. They paint a picture of a portion of reality, and the only question is to what extent the portion that you can’t see correlates well with what you can see. I guess I should have put more trust in the data in the first place, then my initial estimate would have been even more accurate relative to Billboard’s than it already is. ;P

1989 finally falls out of the top 10 after more than a year

One year ago, Taylor Swift was on top of the world. It seemed like there was no bigger star in the sky. At a time when albums weren’t selling, she became the first person to generate three opening sales weeks north of 1 million in a row before launching into a parade of hit single after hit single. “Shake it Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Bad Blood” all soared to #1, and neither “Style” nor “Wildest Dreams” was far behind. In fact, had Taylor Swift promoted them as a first single, she very well might have taken just about any song on the album to #1. “Wildest Dreams,” after all, is in its second week at #1 on US radio.

Still, it has now become clear that there is a bigger star in the sky than Taylor Swift. Just as Taylor Swift nears the end of her extraordinary run at or near the top of the Billboard 200, Adele has popped back onto the scene, and like a lightning bolt, she has set the music world aflame. Taylor Swift’s extraordinary album sales still pale in comparison to those of Adele’s last opus, and her opening sales figure of 1.287 million is likely to be completely trounced by 25, which is currently projected to sell over 2 million first-week copies. 25 is, of course, just one album, while Taylor Swift has produced the same level of massive sales consistently and like clockwork. Many artists see a star burn bright and fade. But the booming entrance of “Hello” and the extraordinary levels of album pre-sales that Adele has managed speak volumes, and predict that Adele’s star is far from burned out yet.

So what is left for Taylor Swift? Obviously, she is going to keep doing what she is doing. She puts out hit after hit after hit. She is far and away the most consistent big-name star in the music industry right now. She puts out an album every other year like clockwork. She releases several singles consecutively, each of which gets a top-notch music video and proper release that propels it up the charts. Then, she goes on a giant global arena tour, where she sings her zillions of hit songs. And, she gets back to work in the studio so that she can release her next album on the next even-year October, just as she has done with all her previous albums except 2008’s Speak Now, which was released on lucky November 11th (Incidentally, Speak Now is her best-selling album to date, although 1989 may yet surpass it).

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