The Analytics of Adele

Listening to music can be soothing, joyful, and meditative, but using analytics to examine music is an intellectual pursuit. It is all about analyzing the music and its message, understanding your audience, and using that information to give you an edge in sales. Data analysts parse the relationship between listeners and music to gain a deeper understanding of consumers’ purchasing habits. They then use those insights to increase customer engagement, create data-driven awareness, and develop reliable revenue streams.

While businesses in almost every industry are relying on data-driven thinkers to solve complex challenges, it is the music industry that has shown how revenue models can be revitalized with the help of analytics. One of the best examples of this is Adele. In a time of declining digital and physical album sales, Adele manages to top the charts over and over and over again. Her album "21" was the top-selling album two years in a row, and, after a four-year break, Adele’s new album, "25", sold more than 7.4 million copies in the final six weeks of 2015.

Adele is a statistical anomaly and lives up to the headlines that tout her name. "25" sold one million copies in three different weeks—the only album ever to do so—and it unseated NSYNC’s "No Strings Attached" to set the record for single-week album sales at 3.37 million. Her single “Hello” set a single-week download record of 1.1 million, and NBC’s “Adele Live in New York City” was the highest-rated TV concert special in more than 10 years.

Sorting through the data, a clear picture of Adele’s success emerges. But what has made her so successful? Research from The Nielsen Company shows that:

  • She reaches people who do not traditionally buy music: 20 percent of those who bought or intended to buy "25" in 2015 identified as “non-music buyers.”
  • She is likable: 55 percent of fans said Adele is “someone I can relate to.”
  • She makes her fans wait because the best is yet to come: 72 percent of those who purchased "25" said the time that passed since her last release four years prior “made me want to buy it even more.”

Given the world’s (and our) fascination with this confessional singer-songwriter, Analytics@American took this exploration of Adele’s vast accomplishments one step further. We broke down the numbers behind Adele’s fame and created a data visualization to show just how successful she really is. Explore the interactive minisite below to experience the analytics of Adele, or what we refer to as “Adelytics.” Explore Adelytics.