Four Things That Happened in the Last “Year of Adele”

The “Adele Factor” — a retrospective.

Just in time for the Black Friday rush, Adele has blessed us with “25,” the follow-up to her chart crushing “21” album which dropped January 2011, after the holidays. First weekend numbers indicate sales will set records, so we thought it would be interesting to travel back to 2011 and see how the last release affected music sales.

2011: CD sales had fallen by half since 2007, the digital download market was beginning to mature, revenues were sinking and millions of consumers had vanished from the music-buying scene. Then something strange and wonderful happened…the decline in music-buying stopped.

Adele Chart 1

The number of digital download buyers began to inch up, as many Gen X and Baby Boomers bought downloads, both singles and full albums. The number of “mature” buyers grew by 24% in 2011 and Adele’s “21” was their most popular selection.

Adele Chart 2

Even the mass exodus from buying CDs stopped; after years of decline the number of CD buyers actually ticked up a bit.

Adele Chart 3

Some people even spent more on CDs, as spending rose more than 10% for the 36- to 50-year-old demographic and “21” was their most popular physical album.

Adele Chart 4

We labeled this all the “Adele Factor,” heaping all the praise on “21,” but the truth is there were other terrific releases in 2011. Beyonc√©, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry were all popular among younger buyers and with few older ones too. Bruno Mars, Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj scored digitally with youth. But it was Adele who likely made the biggest impact. Sadly, as the “Adele Factor” faded some of these trends reversed in 2012. Let’s hope “25” helps to brighten the end of “15” and sets the¬†music business on a solid path in “16”.