What Can We Learn from the 25 Frenzy Brought on by Adele’s Massive Appeal?

I don’t care if you like Adele or her music. The numbers being generated by 25’s first-week sales is THE story of the year. (I’ve been following things day-by-day here.) The sales figures are so big–especially in an era of declining music sales–that it’s hard to wrap your head around them. Even in the music industry’s headiest days (1998-2000), no one dreamed that a single album could be so successful.

Adele’s massive appeal is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Who needs streaming when millions of people worldwide once again willingly decide to purchase your entire record?

But what can we learn from 25? Anything? This piece was written by David Emery:

It’s about 7pm on a dark November Friday. The weather has turned from unseasonably warm to appropriately bitter. That hasn’t stopped the shoppers flocking to one of the capitals premiere shopping destinations, however. They mill around, bags in tow, flicking Christmas signs lighting up their work-weary faces.

In HMV there is a queue at the checkout. I am one of five; the three people ahead are all clutching CDs marked 25. So is the man behind me. So am I.

So much has already been written about the new Adele record, and far more will be because it is fascinating. It’s fascinating because the story of her, and the story of her success, runs counter to so many different narrative strands that we are all deeply accustomed and attuned to.

For example:

The recorded music industry is dying

Well, we’re all used to hearing this one, right? Even now, if you tell a new acquaintance down the pub that you work for a record label you get roughly the same response I did when I took my old car to webuyanycar.com – a slow exhale of breath through pierced lips, and a slight shake of the head (”…and how long did you say the check engine light had been on for?”).

But here we are, with one of the biggest releases the music industry has ever seen. At the time of writing it looks set to be the quickest selling release everwhich leads me to the conclusion that maybe the music industry isn’t screwed, but we’ve just been trying to sell people the wrong stuff?


Read that last phrase one more time. What will the success of 25 lead to in the industry moving forward? Discuss.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “What Can We Learn from the 25 Frenzy Brought on by Adele’s Massive Appeal?

  • November 26, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Is it perhaps the public is tired of Music sounding to mechanized, or perfect?


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