When Adele released her new album, “25,” on Friday, it was sure to be an instant hit. The only question was how big.
After an opening weekend that included Adele’s performing on “Saturday Night Live” and in a BBC special, the album is set to make a historic arrival on the charts.
According to industry sources polled by Billboard magazine, “25” (XL/Columbia) seems set to sell at least 2.5 million copies in the United States in its first week. That would be the highest weekly sales for any album since at least 1991, when SoundScan – a tracking service now owned by Nielsen – began collecting reliable data from retailers.
On iTunes alone, “25” sold at least 900,000 downloads, according to Billboard, and the album is No. 1 on Apple’s iTunes chart in 110 countries. BuzzAngle, a new tracking service that competes with Nielsen, estimated that by Saturday the album had sold 1.9 million copies in both digital and physical form.
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A spokesman for Target, which is selling a version of the CD with three extra songs, said “25” had the biggest opening-day sales of any album in the store’s history.
“Adele is a phenomenon,” said Keith Caulfield, co-director of charts at Billboard. “She connects with fans in such a way that they want to invest in her, and her music.”
The release of the album has rekindled debate in the music industry over the role of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. Those services have racked up tens of millions of subscribers around the world but have been criticized by many artists over the royalties they pay, and the effect that they may have on sales.
Adele did not release her album on streaming outlets, perhaps as a strategy to preserve its large expected sales. The singer has not commented directly on her decision, but on Friday she made a brief comment on her social media accounts about the release.
“I am so overwhelmed and grateful to be able to even put another record out,” Adele wrote, “and put it out how I want.”