Adele has already sold at least 2.433 million copies of her new album 25 according to Nielsen Music, breaking the single-week U.S. album sales record long-held by ‘NSync’s No Strings Attached, Billboard reports.
Amazingly, those numbers only account for sales since the album’s release on Friday. According to early predictions, Adele could push 2.9 million records by the end of the week. Nielsen will release 25‘s full first-week figures on Sunday, November 29th.
Adele’s record-breaking week comes 15 years after ‘NSync set the benchmark for the Nielsen era, selling 2.416 copies of No Strings Attached its first week ending March 26th, 2000 (these sales records only account for albums released after Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991).
Over the past 15 years, album sales have declined steadily. While the drop is due in part to digital piracy, the advent of online retailers like the iTunes store, where fans could purchase songs individually, was equally significant. No longer was it necessary to purchase an $18 CD in order to listen to “Bye Bye Bye” on repeat.
At the peak of the CD boom, it was typical for big-name artists to push over a million copies their first week, but since 2001, only four LPs have cracked the top 10 fastest-selling albums list: Taylor Swift’s 1989 (2014) and Red (2012), Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (2011) and 50 Cent’s The Massacre (2005). All those records, however, settled in the bottom half of the list; the top five fastest-selling LPs (prior to 25) were all released in 2000, save one from 2001.
The lone 2001 LP — in case any further context was needed to establish the enormity of 25‘s sales figures — was ‘NSync’s No Strings follow-up, Celebrity, which sat at the Number Two spot on the fastest-selling records list. Still, that LP only sold 1.879 million copies its first week, over 500,000 fewer than its predecessor.
While Adele’s decision not to stream 25 certainly padded the album’s first-week sales, the numbers speak more to her vast appeal and the significant interest in her records. Her last LP, 2011’s 21 was the first of the Nielsen era to top the best-selling U.S. albums list two years in a row, while in 2014, the album became the first to sell over 3 million digital copies.