Adele is NOT No.1 on this chart (and it’s a really important one)


If you didn’t catch the news over the weekend, Adele’s 25 is currently on course to smash records on both sides of the Atlantic.

As revealed on MBW yesterday, the star’s third album sold approximately 1.9m copies in its first two days on sale in the US.

That’s significantly more than the entire first week sales of Taylor Swift’s 1989 last year (1.3m).

The 1.9m figure covers just Friday (November 20) and Saturday (November 21), with more than 60% of sales coming on digital download services.

Adele’s performance on Saturday Night Live on the the latter date will have given a further boost to 25’s extraordinary commercial performance – it was the third most-watched SNL in the past year.

In the UK, Official Charts Company data shows that 25 went platinum in a single day – that’s 300,000 sales.

Industry leaders are now tipping MBW that the LP is expected to surpass 700,000 sales in the UK by the end of this week.

It’s a similar story the world over: 25 was the No.1 album in 106 of iTunes’ 119 territories last night.

iTunes markets where 25 has failed to hit the top spot so far include Kazakhstan, Honduras and Paraguay.

Yet with all due respect to these countries, there is a chart which means much, much more to the music business on which 25 hasn’t triumphed.

In fact, it’s completely tanked.

Adele and her team at XL/Beggars & Sony famously decided not to put 25 on streaming services in its opening week.

Arguments continue to rage over the merits of this strategy (the fact she’s sold 2m+ units in two days around the world perhaps tells its own story…).

In going ‘sales-only’, however, Adele and her label(s) must have been braced for a piracy hit.

This is one of the key reasons why record companies elect to put new records on Spotify, Apple Music etc. on day one – the hope that they’ll tempt torrenters away from illegitimate services to fully licensed, simple access-based alternatives.

“We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it,” Daniel Ek told Taylor Swift in an open letter last year after she ‘did an Adele’ and kept her 1989 album off streaming services – then pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify.

Said Ek of his company’s cumulative payouts to rightsholders: “That’s two billion dollars’ worth of listening that would have happened with zero or little compensation to artists and songwriters through piracy or practically equivalent services if there was no Spotify.”

Which doesn’t quite explain this.

MBW has just monitored the ever-changing Top 100 chart of the world’s most notorious piracy site, The Pirate Bay, over the weekend and then again this morning (November 23).

(Yes, The Pirate Bay still exists, despite being hit with ISP blocks all over the world. It’s easily available via proxies – via Google! – and antagonistically boasts of being ‘the galaxy’s most resilient bittorrent site.’)

The shock news: 25 is nowhere. Literally nowhere.

Below, you can see the 25 most popular music files on TPB as of yesterday morning (November 22) UK time – two days after the astonishingly successful release of Adele’s new LP.

Yesterday Pirate Bay

Not only does 25 not feature in the tracks we’ve featured above – it didn’t feature in the entire top 100.

It was the same story on Saturday (November 21) – a day after release – and it’s the same story this morning.

Adele did briefly claim a position on the TPB chart yesterday, MBW noticed – at No.63, with her previous release 21 – but she’s since disappeared.

(If you’re wondering what those numbers down the right hand side denote, it’s the number of uploaders – ‘seeders’ – and the number of people downloading without reciprocally uploading – ‘leechers’.)

As you can see, the vast majority of the most popular downloads are records that came out over a year ago, although Justin Bieber’s Purpose, released on November 13, makes the cut.

Now, 25 definitely is being pirated.

The most popular torrent of the album on The Pirate Bay today is being seeded by over 1,300 people – both confirmation that Adele has some non-law-abiding fans, and that Beggars/Merlin hasn’t been able to obliterate the opportunity to get hold of 25 illegally.

Update: On TPB’s less infamous rival, KickAss Torrents, 25 is more popular, rankings-wise – it’s at No.4 on the portal’s music chart today with 707 seeders.

Screen shot 2015-11-23 at 13.25.07

Despite this, 25 currently appears nowhere near as popular on The Pirate Bay as releases from Major Lazer, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown and 96 others.

Major Lazer’s Lean On (feat M0 and DJ Snake), the No.1 torrent on the site, currently has almost 2,000 seeders.

(TPB doesn’t determine between albums and singles, just files.)

As for YouTube, Beggars/Merlin seem to have gone nuclear.

Every time MBW has managed to find a stream of the full 25 album on the Google service post-release, it has already been hit with a copyright takedown.


So what does this tell us about the modern music business?

That all depends on your angle.

On the one hand, it might simply serve to prove quite what a unique case Adele is: her fans want to get hold of her records in their millions, but they are not particularly interested in using the world’s most notorious torrent site to do so.

Clearly, they are more than happy to pay. (Many of them also probably think ‘seeding’ is what you do with the geraniums packet your niece gives you for Christmas.)

Meanwhile, Adele’s fellow blockbuster artists Justin Bieber and One Direction have both just set consecutive all-time records on Spotify, proving that an early appearance on the service with their new albums worked for them in spades.

So… no jumping to hard and fast conclusions allowed.

Yet 25’s severe lack of popularity on The Pirate Bay raises a very important question for the music business: what, exactly, has Adele lost by not putting her music on streaming services in week one?

Because the idea that her decision would ‘drive people to piracy’ is now starting to look like bunkum.Music Business Worldwide

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  • Bruce Hawes

    The lack of piracy of Adele’s 25 album probably points in the direction of her demographic fan base. She appeals to an audience that does not want to surf the Internet to hear music. This must be a shock to the entire industry. Why wouldn’t we want to run to Spotify or Pandora? After all, these services only cost $9.99 USD.

    My guess is, not only will Adele’s fans get the songs they wanted to hear on Spotify and Pandora, they get 23 hours of the day of music they rather forget. In my opinion, Apple Music is not an intrusive streaming service like Pandora and Spotify. On the latter streaming service companies sites, most of the songs in these popular streaming playlist are Oh-So-forgettable songs. The fans don’t remember them after they just listened to them. Or, the other reason is, once you hear one artist’s song there you heard the entire playlist. Every song and every artist sounds exactly the same. This is a throwback tend that dates back to the 1950s where every artists used the same chords and the same Rock & Roll beat.

    The other reason why Adele’s album is appealing to the masses is because her fans rather have the album at their fingertips. Adele’s 25 is a music connoisseur collectors-album. Justin Bieber is a significant artists as is One Direction. But their respective fan-base are teenagers who really rather surf the Internet for these star’s songs. They are the twenty five and below age group. Adele appeals to a wider, more spread out demographic fan base. Her music is for everyone. I knew that the industry was making a mistake by exclusively putting out songs just for the teenagers or alternative lifestyle people. Adele’s album 25, proves it.

    • Another interest angle on Adele’s asserting and defending her rights from IP ownership involves the growing complex of issues stemming from Oblique Infringements. The legalities pertaining to these secondary spun-off products may never be resolved by the courts or the Congress. People like Adele just have to deal with all that; there’s not much anyone can do about indirect or oblique infringements.

  • Arjan

    Maybe it’s worthwhile to take a look at a different torrent site re. this discussion. Kickass features 25 at #2 with 1500 seeders. Oh and btw, yesterday it was #1 with nearly 8000 seeders…

    • musicbizworldwide

      That’s interesting, thanks – we’ll investigate and update.


    So were we feed the wrong information at The Ultimate Seminar on Saturday, when it was announced that ’25’ had just gone of Spotify? Of course the source was from a Facebook…

  • Ian

    Looks like the full album is available on VKontakte.

  • David

    I suspect Beggars have appointed a very efficient/aggressive anti piracy service here – one which can somehow deal with The Pirate Bay. Not to be using one these services on an album of this magnitude would be daft. Perhaps what the stats show is that some anti piracy services can be pretty effective, rather than saying anything much about Adele’s listender demographic? just a thought…I’d be interested to know if these services CAN deal with TPB

  • Could it be her core fans are a bit older than the fans of DJ Snake, Weeknd, Bieber, and Future? Perhaps older fans are less likely to visit pirate bay? It arrived in my email a week ago, so someone, somewhere, already had it and was sharing it. I deleted it. I listen to my music streamed through my car radio on Spotify. If music isn’t on Spotify, I just don’t get to hear it. But Kudos to Adele for selling so well. Here’s hoping she’s making more than 18 points in her deal!!

  • If you go Top100 -> Audio -> Music you get the Top 100 from a larger time sample and that is what is shown in the author’s screenshot. If you instead click “48h” (which is right above the other link I just described) then you’ll see it is on top. Also if you search on TPB for “Adele 25” you’ll see that it already has almost 1000 seeders active between the different formats… so it is on track to potentially be the all time king of those charts.

  • People are having two debates regarding this and it’s the less obvious one that’s most interesting and probably most relevant.
    The central motivation for wiping out musicians’ record sales income and forcing them to give up on that source of revenue and rely on touring is ideological and political. I heard a fellah lay out the whole plan at a public lecture about twenty years ago. Today’s point: the financial (and therefore economic and social) degradation of music creators as IP owners has been deliberate, making all artists mere “social filters” documenting their personally unique take on what’s really important, which may or may not be useful in undermining the System. The individual as an individual is a fish in the ocean of available product and meaningless except as a mouth to further the ideological push, as a voice spreading the word: *Anti-*.

    It’s the Movement-approved message that matters and the medium-of-choice is the techie illegal dissemination because it can’t be stopped by laws. Therein is the ideological core and that was the point of the fellah’s lecture. It’s all about destroying the IP laws, rendering them obsolete through technology, and thereby replacing legal ownership of IP with some other IP system.. The pirating is a means to an end, and the faux-demonised record companies themselves have aggressively pushed *Anti-* as their marketing hook for several generations now. “[It’s] all about disruption and the future.” (Lefsetz 11/19/2015). What future?

    Therein hangs a tale, and the rub (to bastardise Shakespeare a bit).

    That is, some people commit to the party line (using technology and/or criminality and/or creative efforts to screw the powers that be) and work to bring in what such people are convinced is going to be the horrendously lucrative social-justice future where (the lecturer indicated) IP is collectively owned newly-valuable common property. Human evolutionism has appeared on the world stage before, though, and it’s now pretty clear that the scamcash-funded activists won’t pull off the destruction/takeover of Western Civilization after all.

    Some, though, don’t commit to the BIG PLAN because they’re smart enough to know that the whole plan is preposterous. But will they survive financially, you ask, with all that money implies? Or does one end up as– at best– another William Blake?

    This is where Adele’s significance truly lies. Truth to tell, the tide is turning in the land of world events, and presumably creators who won’t commit to ideologically-imposed neo-slavery will gain the public’s favor. That’s where the future is, where the investment and profit is, and the world music business is open to selling a growing alternative to the failed *Anti-*, which for us means neo-slavery.

    Supporting dead-end revolutions is swiftly becoming passe. Adele refused to be just another intriguing molecule in the ocean of *Anti-* , and look what happened business-wise before our very eyes.

  • Adele proves that semi-traditional mass-marketing of IP product by major corporations is quite viable. Maybe there’s just been a loss of confidence over the last few years. Self-constrained ideas of the possible dominated, perceptions of risk were greatly overblown, options were ruled out needlessly. Basically, streamers-thieves-wise guys intimidated the industry into giving up. Psyched-out, same as anyone cowed by the many-headed monster. It’s been the same thing ever since the French Revolution scared the be-jesus out of the Europeans. The music-business profession, as a core culture-influencing structure, had to be co-opted— and it looked like easy meat. And so it turned out to be.
    Adele’s numbers prove that with some modifications normal business practices are just fine. The “Adele news” is that asserting and defending the rights and privileges of ownership of IP still works and the burial of the business model was premature. 🙂

  • David Kramer

    The important thing to consider here when trying to glean information about the profitability and reception of this practice in regards to applying to other artists, is that not every artist is Adele, i.e. there are a few artists who have a strong enough fan-base that – when forced out of having any other alternatives – will end up buying the album, but outside of those several popular artists is an ocean of musicians and bands that need the streaming services just to reach a larger amount of people.

    There are plenty of bands also, that if they were to decide to only make their music available via purchasing the album, that their not-nearly-as-fanatic fans would say “Yeah, you know what? Forget them, then.” With that last point in mind, it almost seems as if the producers of this album were consciously thinking, “We know they’ll buy it if we make it unavailable elsewhere. Forget appealing to different kinds of listeners – they buy it or they don’t listen.” And it’s fine for an artist to want to make money – but just like Hulu, Prime, Netflix, etc etc, I am very much against controlling the channels in which content must be obtained. “You want it? You have to get it from me.”

    One last thing I want to mention… the album went platinum in one day. Why? Because if you wanted to listen to it, you had to buy it. In a way, that seems like cheating to me. Look at other artists these days… you release an album, you sell it, stream it on all the services, etc. I’m not 100% sure, but I would bet that listening to an album streamed from one of those services wouldn’t count as a sale towards going platinum. So then another artist decides to be less “available” and force the sale. Maybe it makes for a more accurate representation of actual demand for the album, but it also makes that whole rating system pointless. How do we know that Band X or Band Y wouldn’t have had more sales had they not put their songs on streaming? If the playing field is uneven, then her album going platinum means nothing.

    I can’t say that this practice bad or not, but it certainly smell iffy to me, and it seems to stink worse the more I think about it. I know artists deserve to make money and shouldn’t also be forced to release their music everywhere that exists if they don’t want to, but idealistically as a musician myself, that art should be available to everyone, and not controlled – especially not to inflate album sales or herd fans to only listen the way they want you to listen.

    • Accepting your argument in terms of practical business merely means that artists shouldn’t waste their time trying to make money. It also implies directly that the potential audience has a right to possess the product and the musician/label would be acting unethically if the creations were not disseminated to anyone who wants to possess them. This is, as I pointed out in my post, a conversion from private property systems to communal property models. We call that Communism.
      Would you want your wife being communal property?

      • zarathustra2k1

        “Given that system, I can’t imagine why anyone would make recordings at all.”
        Yet people do all the time; it’s called passion. You should try it out – far more fulfilling than the empty pursuit of lucre for lucre’s sake…

        • I don’t understand why people would engage in passions to begin with, but that’s me. I should point out that the USA spends eight hundred billion dollars each and every year on the military-intelligence complexes– and no one can decode the words “passion” and “love”?

        • haha. Crap, this country spends eight hundred billion dollars each and every single year on military and intelligence– and nobody has figured out what the social practice called “a passion” is? Or the involvement in “love” throughout the Biz. It’s kinda comical really. [Edit] “For real.”

      • Πορτοκάλι

        Why, you think your wife as property? Interesting.

    • It is not 100% art when one of the goals is to make money.

      • Says who?
        “Nobody but a blockhead ever wrote for anything but money.” Samuel Johnson, tastemaker and dictionary creator.

        • zarathustra2k1

          “Short-sighted breadheads are fucking up our world.” – Me & the Pope.

  • Sunrise250

    Who knew PirateBay users have such good taste in music? This is a truly reliable critics chart!

  • go1086

    Adele may not be on TPB, but it is running on Kickass and Demonoid. Reason being, is that no one is taking the present version of TPB seriously.

  • I don’t think this is the right way to look at how much is out there. I looked at KickAss. There are six different torrents. Some deluxe, some not. Some lossless, some not. In total about 2000 seeding.

    At ThePirateBay I found 21 torrents. Some Target editions. Some vinyl editions. And many repeats. A total of about 4500 seeding.

    Because of multiple torrents of the same album, you can’t look at a ranking.

    • Since I posted the above, someone has posted to KickAss a 25 in 24/96 HD. It has 1000 seeders. No other torrent in the lossless group comes close.

  • buzz bell

    Hmm – i pay for Spotify and would for iTunes if it didn’t suck so bad…so in fact Adele would get compensated if she also streamed – she got some bad info to not stream – because it took all of two minutes for some people to find it in torrentville

  • Bill

    It’s the demographic. People that listen to adele don’t pirate music by and large. If you look at the top torrents, it will be music targeted to a younger age group.

    • Happy Feet

      EXACTLY, there’s nothing for “music insiders” to learn from Adele here. It’s the same reason you won’t find family movies or chick-flicks on the top 100 TPB film charts. They are on the site, but the piraters don’t care about those as much because they are mostly males ranging from teens-30’s who don’t listen to her music which appeals to the polar opposite demographic, mostly.

  • Ken

    Adele is most definitely on TPB. Perhaps you should actually search for it.

    • It is funny, I cannot find her stuff on other, music only free outlets. How did they stop her’s and no one else’s?

  • SRR126

    The intersection of the sets of Adele fans and morons and KickAss users is close to nil
    While the intersection of the first two sets is close to 100%

  • Nick

    Maybe because KickAss torrent users don’t listen to Adele.

  • Jon Riffioso Hockley

    The pirate bay is no longer a main contender in piracy. It is outside of Alexa’s top 500 most visited websites worldwide. The site used to be in the top 50.

    Kick Ass Torrents is now the most popular torrent browser (Rank 83 on Alexa) so i would recommend using that as your gauge to pirated content.

    Also in the top500

    Rutracker is Russia’s most popular platform

    Torrentz is India’s most popular platform

    There are probably a few others but until someone shuts them down they can be used to monitor popularity of piracy content in other markets.

    • Thank you for posting that information. My business has to counter that by simply not releasing anything in the catalog. That makes any piracy criminal at a different level of seriousness which, it seems, is enough to keep the recordings out of TorrentWorld. So, since I can’t afford to mount a serious defense, I’m sitting tight until I actually can mount a defense. That translates into marketing through a corporation with a staff of lawyers. Until then I’m invisible to the industry. Seems to be working as a business strategy.

  • Another interesting angle on Adele’s asserting and defending her rights from IP ownership involves the growing complex of issues stemming from Oblique Infringements. The legalities pertaining to these secondary spun-off products sold in the legit market may never be resolved by the courts or the Congress. Shutting down products of oblique infringement in TorrentWorld will never happen. People like Adele just have to abandon all hope of dealing with all that; there’s not much anyone (even Team Adele, or Sony itself) can do about indirect or oblique infringements.

  • Maybe an entirely new, technologically monopolise, avenue of sales would put the primary corporations firmly back in control. Once they figure out how to distribute songs more or less in realtime to allied companies out in the Galaxy, they will reap what Carl Sagan called “the billions and billions and billions.”

  • Anonymous64

    Maybe this proves that the dumbells that still pirate music also have horrible taste.