Adele’s sophomore set, “21,” bowed on the Billboard 200 today with sales of 352,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s the highest opening week tally in 2011. It also marks the biggest debut for a new album since Kanye West started with 496,000 with “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” the week ending Nov. 28. That same week, Nicki Minaj launched “Pink Friday” with sales of 375,000. As well as she's doing here, she's blowing up even bigger in her native U.K.: She is the first artist since the Beatles to have entries in both the top 5 of the album and singles charts. Here’s how she did it and what other artists can learn.
1) Set up, set up, set up. Columbia, Adele’s U.S. label, began greasing the wheels in September by discreetly playing one or two tracks for people to start to get a whisper campaign going. Then in October, a full four months before the release date, Adele played small showcases in New York and Los Angeles for tastemakers to continue to build the buzz. Here’s our report from her Los Angeles show. There has been a slow, but steady simmering on the project ever since then that came to a boil as the release date approached.
2) The focus has been squarely on the music. While paparazzi have hassled Adele in her native London, here she’s simply not the stuff of tabloid fodder. Maybe it’s because she’s not posing in next to nothing or falling drunk out of a bar or dating a semi-celeb, but when we talk about Adele, we talk about the music...and her talent. And isn’t that a nice change of pace? What a concept.
[More after the jump...]