Adele Hits Number One on Huge Digital Sales

Majority of buyers of new album '21' purchased it online

March 4, 2011 9:50 AM ET
Adele Hits Number One on Huge Digital Sales
Photograph by Lauren Dukoff

British soul singer Adele scored her first Number One album in the U.S. this week, largely on the strength of digital sales. According to data from Nielsen SoundScan, 62 percent of the sales for Adele's 21 in its first week out were for the digital album version, with only 38 percent of its overall 352,000 units sold coming from CD sales. If 21 had not been released on CD at all, it still would have been Number One, as the second-highest selling album of the week, Justin Bieber's Never Say Never: Remixes, sold 102,000 copies.

Video: Adele on '21': 'The Songs on Here are the Most Articulate I've Ever Written'

A number of recent chart hits have been driven mainly by online purchases. When the Decemberists reached Number One with their album The King is Dead in January, digital sales accounted for 65 percent of sales, and a whopping 69 percent of Amos Lee's Mission Bell came from digital stores.

Photos: Random Notes

The difference here is a matter of volume – Adele's record sold 217,000 digital albums last week, in comparison to Lee's album, which moved only 40,000 in its first week, making it the lowest-selling Number One in SoundScan history. 21 sold more than six times as many copies as the second-best selling digital record this week, Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More.

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