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.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Recap 2/12: Grammys, The Weeknd, Adele, Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Jordan Smith, Selena Gomez, Who Is Fancy, Lady Gaga, Haley Reinhart, Taylor Swift, Twenty One Pilots, Ariana Grande, Coldplay, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Songs of the Summer 2016!

What I’m watching —

Grammys

This year’s Grammy awards are coming up Monday, February 15th at 5:00PM, right in the middle of a tracking week. The Grammys being the Grammys, they should spur large sales bumps for artists that perform or are nominated for (or win) awards. I am watching the numbers on two artists in particular: The Weeknd and Adele.

The Weeknd – After a string of massive hits, The Weeknd’s current single, “In the Night” just missed the top 10 on the Hot 100, peaking for two weeks at #12. However, the song is currently just starting to decline from peak radio airplay (#5 on radio songs; #3 on pop). It peaked with 135.352 million weekly audience impressions several days ago, and has fallen to 127.857 million weekly audience impressions as of yesterday. Given its continued strong radio airplay, The Weeknd will be in a strong position to leap into the top ten on the Hot 100 with its Grammy’s boost.

The Weeknd is currently selling about 20k copies/week of “In the Night.” It is getting about 2,586,206 weekly Spotify streams. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that it is getting 5 million total weekly streams (that Spotify streams make up about half of the total.

Since the Weeknd is both nominated for a lot of awards (Best Pop Solo Performance; Best R&B Performance; Best R&B Song; Best Urban Contemporary Album; Best Song Written for Visual Media; as well as two of the big three: Record of the Year; and Album of the Year) AND slated to perform “In the Night” at the Grammys, we should expect a fairly large sales boost for “In the Night.” I would be shocked if weekly sales didn’t AT LEAST double, and I would be unsurprised if they jumped up to the 80k-100k range.

Streams should see a smaller boost. I would expect a +50% boost to perhaps 7.5 million streams in the Grammys tracking week.

I would note that in past years, the first few hours after the Grammys (when a substantial chunk of the bump tends to occur) have been in a different tracking week from the rest of the week following the Grammys. With essentially the entire post-Grammys bump crammed into a single tracking week, we should expect to see a larger post-Grammys bump than in years past.

The takeaway: Don’t be surprised if The Weeknd adds a fifth US top 10 hit to his resume thanks to to the fortuitous timing of the Grammys.

Adele – Adele’s “When We Were Young” is also a strong bet to surge into the top ten following what is sure to be a stirring performance on the Grammys.

After she finally released the song to streaming services and released cover art, it started picking up steam again on radio (where it had stalled at #10). Adele added 1.406 million audience impressions per week today, for a current total of 92.749 million audience impressions over the past week, about half that of the #1 song (Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” which grew by 1.193 million weekly audience impressions today, for a total of 173.683 million over the past seven days). That is up from only 906,000 in weekly audience growth yesterday, and an actual 169,000 decline four days ago.

In sharp contrast to “Hello,” which is still raging away at 6 million global youtube views/day, “When We Were Young” has declined to under 500,000/day. “Hello” is at 1.15 billion total views; “When We Were Young” is only at 79 million. I mean, that’s almost embarrassing. This is Adele. ZAYN’s new video got that many views in two weeks. Now that Adele has released the song for streaming and single artwork, is she finally ready to drop a real music video for the song and sprinkle a little bit of that Adele dust to make it light up the charts?

If Adele were to drop a music video in connection with a stunning Grammys performance, then it would be difficult to see how she could avoid shooting into the top ten on the Hot 100. Even absent a new music video, however, it is entirely conceivable that “When We Were Young” could more than double its current weekly sales total of 40,000, and shoot into the top ten anyways. We’ll just have to sit tight and see what happens.

What else to watch for: How do Adele’s album sales hold up as “Hello” drops off radio charts? Does she keep releasing singles and promoting them with killer music videos? Do pure album sales stay over the 100,000/week mark for the 19 weeks that it would now take 25 to sell 10 million pure album sales? Does 25 ultimately end up selling as many or more copies than did 2121 sold another 10,766 pure album sales in the most recent tracking week. Is that going to be the norm over the coming year, or will its sales slide faster than those of 25? If they hold up like that, 21 would sell another half-million copies this year.

Performers:

  • Taylor Swift
  • Adele (performing her new single “When We Were Young)
  • The Weeknd
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, John Legend and Luke Bryan (Lionel Richie Tribute)
  • Little Big Town
  • Pitbull, Robin Thicke and Travis Barker
  • Justin Bieber, Diplo and Skrillex
  • Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood
  • Ellie Goulding and Andra Day
  • Lady Gaga (Tribute to David Bowi)
  • Tori Kelly and James Bay
  • Rihanna
  • Eagles, Bernie Leadon and Jackson Browne (Tribute to Glenn Frey)
  • Miguel and Greg Phillinganes
  • The Hollywood Vampires (Tribute to Lemmy of Motorhead)
  • Gary Clark Jr., Bonnie Raitt and Chris Stapleton (Tribute to B.B. King)
  • Alabama Shakes
  • The Cast of “Hamilton”

Presenters:

  • Common
  • Ice Cube and O’Shea Jackson Jr.
  • Anna Kendrick
  • Ryan Seacrest
  • James Corden
  • Stephen Colbert
  • Kaley Cuoco
  • Ariana Grande
  • Selena Gomez
  • Anna Kendrick
  • Seth MacFarlane
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Sam Smith

Other Stuff to Watch

Rihanna – “Work” is continuing to rage up radio charts (to #15 overall), up 1.877 million weekly audience impressions today to a total of 73.633 million over the past week. Still, that is a dropoff from the 3 million weekly audience impressions/week increase that was the norm over the second week of release.

Daily increase in weekly audience impressions for “Work” in reverse chronological order (dating back to the 9th day of release): 1.877m, 2.1m, 2.7m, 3.1m, 3.2m, 3.9m, 3.2m, 2.6m.

Driven by  a strong response at radio, “Work” is back to #2 on iTunes, with estimated sales of 99,000 for the week ending yesterday. That is behind only Flo Rida’s “My House” which sold about 127,000 copies. Strong sales and increasing radio airplay put Rihanna in a good position to remain in the top ten of the Hot 100 for the foreseeable future.

Will she make it to #1? Perhaps, but not this week. 160k sales were only sufficient to propel her to #7 last week, and her increasing radio airplay and streaming isn’t likely to make up for a 61k drop in sales. Perhaps she can squeeze into the #1 slot if she has a strong Grammys bump, or she can maintain strong enough sales as radio airplay builds in coming weeks to capitalize on the eventual decline of the current hits. Alternately, she might amass sufficient streaming if/when she debuts a music video for “Work” to propel it to #1.

REMEMBER: Streaming is currently the biggest of the three components (streaming, sales, and radio impressions) of Billboard’s Hot 100. 

Parent album Anti is less of a success story. After one million albums were given away, it managed to rise to #1 on the Billboard 200 (and Hot Album Sales) after one full week of sales (166,000 album equivalents including 124,000 pure album sales). This week, the album is set to drop to #4 and #7 on the Billboard 200 and Album Sales charts respectively, with 92,553 equivalent units including only 47,644 pure album sales. For comparison, Adele’s 25, which has already sold 8 million copies in the United States, is reported to have sold another 105,852 pure albums in its 12th tracking week (126,077 total equivalent units).

What to watch for: Does “Work” keep declining in radio audience impression growth, or does it stabilize and/or reverse course?

Adam Lambert – With a solo tour underway this Spring, Adam Lambert obviously has a lot on his plate. But, he has also planned a separate tour for this Summer as Queen + Adam Lambert. Add in an Oreo commercial and a presumptive appearance in some capacity on the final season of the show which gave birth to his star, and you aren’t looking at a slacker.

In other news: “Ghost Town” was recently certified gold in the United States, for shipments of 500,000 units (I have previously estimated a global total of easily 1 million units), Adam was named (by Forbes) the top-earning American Idol alum of 2015 ($10 million), he was invited to star in Fox’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His tour is really selling tickets. He also finally officially fessed up to having had his voice insured for $48 million. He has been nominated for the GLAAD award for Outstanding Music Artist (full list of nominees). Oh yeah, and he is currently in the lead to win, once more, the title of “Most Eligible Bachelor” from Out Magazine (feel free to increase his vote total here).

Ghost Town” (with 58,602,994) still has more than twice as many YouTube views as The Weeknd’s current hit, “In the Night,” (25,917,537) which, as mentioned above, is slated to smash into the top ten on Billboard (“Ghost Town” peaked at #64). “Ghost Town” also maintains a strong lead in terms of global spotify streams (113,861,560 v. 73,351,971). This is, of course, just one more sign that “Ghost Town” ultimately achieved a very legitimate degree of success on the international stage, despite its slow ascent and mediocre peak in the US.

It is also fascinating that both songs ultimately have many more Spotify streams than Youtube, counter to the ordinary trend. Adele, for example, has only 394,659,764 Spotify streams for “Hello,” despite having racked up well over 1 billion via Youtube.

With all of this success, what exactly is it that we should be watching for in Adam Lambert World? Well, since current single, “Another Lonely Night” has started dropping off radio airplay charts, it is time to start looking towards the next single. As I have previously argued in detail, “The Original High” is a clear choice for Adam’s next single, and his label should start promoting it to radio soon if they want to give it a real chance to take off during the summer. At the same time, they should wait to release the music video after the song has built up to a critical threshold of radio airplay, then they should drop a music video designed to reinvigorate the song’s chart-life just in time for the summer months. Adam should especially consider using the sold-out concerts of his tours as an effective advertising medium for his song while he has the chance. I personally LOVE “The Original High.” It is the heart of his album, and it would be a shame if it weren’t given a chance to be a smash.

 

Jordan Smith – has announced the debut of his first album March 18th. Jordan Smith recently won The Voice after becoming the first contestant to ever send a song to the iTunes top 10 every single week of the Live Rounds. In fact, he managed three times to hit #1, including stealing the honor with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” of being the first person to unseat Adele’s “Hello” from the top spot during its initial run while it was still selling like hotcakes (it was selling around 400,000/week at the time that it was momentarily unseated by “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”). As opposed to now (60k/week, #8), when “Hello” is just selling like… luke-warm cakes…?

Lead track “Stand in the Light” is currently at #87 on iTunes and rising. Check out his past chart performance below:

Title Album details Peak chart positions Debut Week Sales
US Billboard 200 CAN
The Voice: Jordan Smith: The Complete Season 9 Collection 11 48 US: 48,000[23]
Title Year Peak Chart Positions Debut week Sales
US Billboard Hot 100 US Hot Christian Songs
Halo 2015 88
Great Is Thy Faithfulness 30 1
Hallelujah 61 1
Somebody to Love 21
Mary Did You Know 24 1
Climb Every Mountain 72
God Only Knows
(with Adam Levine)
90

Selena Gomez – “Hands To Myself” rises #33-#29 today on weekly radio audience impressions (57.476 million; +1.518 million). At its current rate of increase, it should reach the top 10 on radio songs within the next month. Sales are down 61k – 47k for the week ending 2/11. Daily Spotify streams are at 609,632 (#10 in the US).

What to watch: Is radio airplay increasing fast enough to continue driving sales, or will sales continue to deflate?

Who Is Fancy – “Boys Like You” (feat. Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande) is apparently being planned as this summer’s big breakout hit.

With two huge-name featured artist billings and a clear pop sound, it is not conceivable that this song is being promoted to radio without debuting on a single chart. The only logical explanation is that it is not being promoted yet. Why? Probably because the song has an obvious summer vibe. The labels want to break out a new star, and summer is the best time to do it.

More evidence? Both Meghan Trainor AND Ariana Grande had breakout moments in the summer. To be fair, Ariana Grande was already quite famous before “Problem” became the #2 song of Summer 2014, but that song is easily her biggest hit to date, and was the beginning of her current reign as a true A-list pop star. Meghan Trainor, of course, rode the tidal wave of her infectious hit “All About that Base” in 2015.

Other artists that have broken out with a massive summer smash?

2014 Iggy Azalea “Fancy” feat. Charli XCX

2014 MAGIC! “Rude

2013 Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines

2012 Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe

2012 Gotye “Somebody That I Used to Know

2011 Adele “Rolling in the Deep

2008 Katy Perry “I Kissed a Girl

Remember this in six months: I predicted this song would be a summer smash long before it ever debuted on an airplay chart.

Lady Gaga – After her extremely well-received Super Bowl performance, everybody is once again amazed  to discover that Gaga has pipes.

Her passion project, “Til It Happens to You,” after acquiring an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song and a Grammy nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media, has finally officially debuted on a Billboard airplay chart (although it previously topped Dance Club Songs), and its music video now has over 25 million views. Gaga is also nominated for a Grammy and she just WON a Golden Globe (for her role as The Countess in American Horror Story).

By the way, in case you haven’t heard, by performing at 1) the Super Bowl, 2) the Grammys, and 3) the Oscars all in the same year, Gaga is setting a new record.

So, after all of the toned down performances over the past year that have shown off Gaga’s vocal chops, is that what we should expect from her album out later this year? I don’t think so. I think we should expect pure pop. We should expect Lady Gaga in all of her manipulative glory, fighting to stay relevant in the music industry by setting new trends. We should expect killer hooks and solid beats. We should expect a mix of styles and sounds, but carefully crafted together into a cohesive whole. Gaga has a long history of producing killer radio fodder, and we should expect her to do it again. She went wrong when she got stuck in her head. Now, she is back to the killer Gaga who tore her way to fame in 2008 simply by acting like somebody famous and pushing the media into a frenzy.

Haley Reinhart – She’s returning as a guest judge to American Idol and she is supposedly releasing a new album soon.

Taylor Swift – Current single, “Out of the Woods” is slipping at radio far earlier than any of the prior singles. Now that everyone has bought 1989, and now that the singles aren’t selling well no matter how much radio airplay they get, does TS continue releasing them and promoting them to radio? Or does she hold off until the next album, when there will be something for her to sell?

For most artists, it would be a no brainer — you keep releasing singles as long as they are still getting mass airplay, especially since she is planning on going on hiatus after this album. But, what does she have to gain from more radio airplay exposure? She keeps selling a few more singles and albums, but not that many. And, it isn’t like it is going to make the shows on her tour any more sold out, or the anticipation for her next album any more pronounced. Quite simple, Taylor has reached the ceiling. She is basically the second biggest pop star in the world, and she has virtually no room for further growth.

Twenty One Pilots – With “Stressed Out” (167.419 million weekly audience impressions; +1.427 million weekly audience impressions today) rising faster at radio than Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself”(173.683 million weekly audience impressions; +1.193 million weekly audience impressions today), and with a fairly small gap between them to begin with (6.264 million), it is not inconceivable that “Stressed Out” should eventually take the radio crown from “Love Yourself.” With radio airplay driving sales and streams, it is only a short step to the overall crown on the Hot 100. At their current rates, “Stressed Out” would overtake “Love Yourself” in about 21 days, or 3 weeks. Will another song push in before “Stressed Out” has a chance to take the crown? Will Bieber fend off the challenger after all?

What to watch for? See if the gap between “Stressed Out” and “Love Yourself”‘s rate of increase at radio tends to widen or narrow over the coming days.

By the way, does Twenty One Pilots remind you of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? Or am I just being racist against all white rappers?

Ariana Grande – When is the new album coming out? Is she scrapping stuff and reworking her album after “Focus” got a lukewarm welcome? Keep in mind that, radio flop or not, “Focus” is still easily Grande’s biggest Youtube hit to date in terms of daily views.

Also? Freaking amazing star eyes:

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 6.39.30 PM

I have to say, it was probably one of if not THE best-produced music videos of the year.

Coldplay – After a Super Bowl performance that was largely derided and overshadowed by the sideshows of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars, some people have been wondering whether Coldplay had the requisite stature and popularity to be chosen to headline the half-time show in the first place. As it turns out, Coldplay has more cred than I would have guessed. Coldplay has sold about 59 million albums worldwide (they are on their 7th release). Four of their past five albums have reached #1 on the Billboard 200; the last made a very respectable debut at #2 (195,000 pure album sales, 210,000 equivalent units) behind Adele’s third week of blockbuster 25 sales (695,000 in pure album sales; 728,000 album equivalents). For comparison, this upcoming week’s #1 album, Future’s EVOL, should only have about 139,106 equivalent units (108,403 pure album sales).

Oh. Oops.  I’m so sorry, Coldplay. It appears that up above, for the words “Super Bowl,” I accidentally linked to the most viewed Youtube video (12 million views) for this year’s super bowl half-time performance… you know… the one featuring “Bruno Mars & Beyonce ONLY.” Here is a link to the full half-time show (500,000 views), including Coldplay…

Back to stats: Coldplay has sold 18.2 million albums and 33.6 million single downloads in the United States. How many hit singles has Coldplay had in the United States?

#1s: 1

Top tens: 3

Top 20s: 7

Top 40s: 13

Top 100s: 21

Coldplay is a UK band. How much better do they perform “across the pond?”

#1s: 2

Top tens: 16

Top 20s: 18

Top 40s: 22

Top 100s: 30

So, Coldplay is more of an international artist than a US artist, but they still make a respectable showing here.

Compare Beyonce’s US hits:

#1s: 5 (+4 more with Destiny’s Child)

Top tens: 15 (+10)

Top 20s: 23 (+11)

Top 40s: 27 (+13)

Top 100s: 42 (+14)

And Bruno Mars’s US hits:

#1s: 6

Top tens: 12

Top 20s: 13

Top 40s: 15

Top 100s: 18

And Lady Gaga’s US hits:

#1s: 3

Top tens: 13

Top 20s: 15

Top 40s: 17

Top 100s: 21

It’s not hard to see how Coldplay was upstaged…

Still, A Head Full of Dreams makes a 300% leap to almost 100,000 album equivalent units, good for a #16-#3 projected jump on the Billboard 200. In terms of pure album sales, the leap is 389% (#12-#3; 89,819 pure albums).

Beyonce – She released a hot new track just as she showed up Coldplay at the Super Bowl. “Formation” already has 23 million views in 6 days, despite being available only to those with a direct link to the video. On radio, the track rises #133-#108 today with a 3.932 million weekly audience increase to 17.688 million.

What to watch for? So far, the song hasn’t debuted on Pop Songs or Adult Pop. If it stays largely confined to genre charts, then its ascent at radio will have a ceiling.

Michael Jackson – After Spike Lee released a documentary, and Beyoncé paid tribute in a well-received Super Bowl performance, the King of Pop’s songs saw a miniature sales resurgence, lead by “The Way You Make Me Feel,” which sold 3,000 copies in the last tracking week.

What to watch for: With singer, Miguel slated to pay tribute on Monday’s Grammys with a cover of “She’s Out of My Life,” I for one will be watching the sales bounce.

TRIVIA QUESTION

Answer to last week’s question: Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind/Something About the Way You Look Tonight” sold 3,446,000 physical copies in its first week in 1997. It also sold 1,212,000 in its second week. Those are the only two sales frames in which a physical single sold more than 1 million copies in a week. Adele’s first week with “Hello” (1.1 million) is the only sales frame in which a digital single has sold more than 1 million copies. The previous record-holder on the digital side? Flo Rida’s “Right Round” sold 636,000 in a week in 2009.

This 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)?

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.

Projections

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 Beat NSYNC’s One-Week Record in Less than Half a Week

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 (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.)

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.

Conclusion

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).

Extrapolations

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. 

Pre-Orders

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.

Prediction

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)

Hello

Someone Like You

Skyfall

Album: 25