Adele’s 25: the true value of a money-making machine

Here’s some fun stats about Adele’s record-demolishing 25.

We now know that the album managed to sell 10m units across the UK and US alone last year.

Remember, 25 was released on November 20 worldwide, so only had six weeks on shelves.

Other than lead single Hello, it did not officially appear on interactive streaming services.

Luckily, that keeps the following calculations about how much money it made fairly simple.


In the UK, according to the Official Charts Company, 25 sold just over 2.6m copies in 2015.

In the US in the same year, according to Nielsen/Billboard, it sold 7.44m copies.

Combined, that totals 10.04m copies. (Which works out at an average of 1.7m sales per week. Go Adele.)

Now, according to Kantar Worldpanel, the value of an average album sale in the UK market in 2014 was £7.84 ($11.50).

The US is a little trickier, but according to MBW analysis of RIAA data for mid-2015, an average digital album cost $9.94, while the average CD album cost $12.87.

It just so happens than Adele’s 25 sold very close to 50/50 digital and physical in its opening weeks in the US. Helpful.

Blend the US average physical and digital prices together and you get to $11.41.

(These averages will probably be on the low side of 25’s price point, as they take into account budget and reduced releases. But they still give us a very good idea.)

A bit of simple maths:

  • In the UK, 25 sold 2.6m X £7.84 ($11.50) = £20.4m ($29.9m)
  • In the US, it sold 7.44m X $11.41 = $84.89m

That comes out at a total six-week transatlantic retail revenue haul for 25 of…

$114.79 million

Remember, that doesn’t include any broadcast / sync or other licensing income – or the lucrative world of live/merch etc.

It’s just how much cash was handed over at tills and online.


But there’s more.

You may have seen on MBW today that retail revenues in the UK recorded music market increased 3.5% in 2015, according to the latest BPI stats – up to £1.058bn.

Annual UK album sales, meanwhile, dropped slightly to £687m.

How much of that tally did Adele claim?

In terms of the overall market, it wasn’t massive: 1.93%.

In terms of album sales alone, it was more significant: 3%

But get this: The difference between the total UK recorded music market’s revenue in 2015 and 2014 was just £36m.

Adele’s 25 made up close to two-thirds of that figure. On its own.

In six weeks.Music Business Worldwide

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