There’s a lot of generally accepted wisdom about how you go about releasing music today, and for most artists that hold true. Not for a superstar like Adele, who, once again, proves that if you’re big enough you can ignore the rules that everyone else plays by.
Rule #1 Broken – You Need A Constant Stream Of Releases
It’s accepted today that you need a constant stream of new music to keep your audience engaged and interested. Most artists abide by this (even some superstars), but not Adele. She’s released an album every 5 years, and yet she’s not forgotten or become old news when the next release date comes around.
Granted, the hype machine began to rev up last year when she appeared with a new sleeker body that made her instantly newsworthy, but there was a 3 year lull before that when she was almost invisible. Not many artists can survive that in these days of constant engagement.
Rule #2 Broken – Physical Sales Are Dying
When it comes to physical product, why bother. The costs are high and the time restraints can be severe. Sure you can still sell some vinyl, but most of that is reissues or special packages and not new releases. That rule doesn’t apply to Adele though.
First of all, according to Billboard, 30’s total album sales are at 692,000 so far, with physical album sales accounting for 487,000 of that figure (378,000 in CDs, 108,000 in vinyl LPs, and just under 2,000 in cassette tapes) and digital album sales comprising 205,000.
Now the big surprise here is that she’s sold almost 4 times as many CDs and vinyl albums. Considering that it was reported that her label ordered around 500,000 vinyl copies, the vinyl sales seem a little low. And 2,000 cassettes? I’d like to know who’s buying these and why.
The even bigger surprise is the 205k digital albums sales, since the sales in this category has been dropping like a rock the last few years.
The numbers tell us that 30 is the biggest selling album of the year, and that was only compiled in a week. Not only that, it’s the biggest seller since 2017.
Rule #3 Broken – The Album Is Dead
The popular notion these days is that the album is dead. How many times have you heard, “People don’t listen to albums anymore?” That’s a fact in most cases, but not Adele’s. In fact, she forced Spotify to forbid shuffling of her album so you have to listen in order. Did that hurt her sales? Not a bit. She’s still #1 on all streaming services by a long shot.
The upshot is that the general practices apply to most artists, stars and superstars, but every so often there’s one that can operate way outside the box and still be successful. Count Adele in that category.[Photo: Kristopher Harris]