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Adele Is More Than The Best-Paid Grammy Nominee: Data Says She’s Ahead Of Beyoncé

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Monday, February 13th, 2017
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Adele Grammy


Adele is the highest-paid Grammy nominee this year with $80.5 million in 2016 earnings from 25 and touring, according to FORBES, and five Grammy nominations. But  Adele enters the Grammy battle with Beyoncé and others as more than the best-paid nominee.

Ahead of the Sunday, Feb. 12, ceremony, where the British star will compete with her American rival for best song, album and record of the year, a university team has analyzed the scale of her album sales and success in the 21st century.

Analytics@American, the Master in Business Analytics program from American University, sifted data from research company Nielsen SoundScan from the years 2000 through 2015 that shows her lead over other artists.


Chart courtesy Analytics@American, the Master in Business Analytics program from American University.
Chart courtesy Analytics@American, the Master in Business Analytics program from American University.

The charts it produced interpret data in new ways, such as one graphing the top-selling albums of each year. Each title is measured on average sales a day over the period it was available. Therefore, Adele’s 25, released on Nov. 20, 2015, became the bestselling album of the year in only six weeks. It sold more than 7.4 million copies in that period, with averages sales per day of more than 175,000. This is as much as three times the per day rate of any of the bestselling album in the previous 15 years, with only Taylor Swift’s 1989 exceeding the 50,000 a day mark in 2014.

The chart is even more dramatic when restricted just to CDs, with the average sales per day of 120,000, which is many times higher than that of previous bestsellers, such as the Frozen soundtrack and Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience. Beyoncé does not even feature in the lists.

Other findings of the research confirm trends that may influence Grammy decisions – as well as talent scouts looking for future stars:

  • Adele reaches people who do not traditionally buy music. A fifth of consumers who bought or intended to buy 25 in 2015 identified as “non-music buyers.” Record companies are also analyzing this appeal because they want to discover and promote stars that are best able to extend appeal to as many people as possible.
  • Adele is likable. She has entered the wallets of consumers by capturing their hearts. Fifty-five percent of fans said she is “someone I can relate to.”
  • Adele shows the value of spacing out records and not flooding the market. Some 72% of those who purchased 25 said that the four years that passed since her last release, 21, “made me want to buy it even more.” Of course, 21 was itself the bestselling album for two straight years.

Adele’s success runs contrary to a long-term decline in album sales, especially in physical form. Whereas global revenues have been holding steady or even edging up, CD sales have especially has declined. Despite this, 25 still sold 1 million copies in three different weeks – the only album ever to do so – and it unseated NSYNC’s No Strings Attached to set the record for single-week album sales at 3.37 million.

The analytics of Adele, or what those in the Kogod School of Business calls “Adelytics,” are bound to the followed by others who are keen to discover more about consumer behavior. How it will play out at the Grammys remains to be seen , but however many awards Adele scoops up, industry figures will be watching for more stars with similar qualities – not just good voice and great songs, but also with likable personalities and with an appeal to those otherwise less likely to buy music.

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