Adele’s 30 locks up a sixth consecutive week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart (dated Jan. 8). It’s the first album with six weeks in a row at No. 1 since Adele’s own 25 linked together seven straight weeks in the lead six years ago (Dec. 12, 2015 – Jan. 23, 2016-dated charts). 25 spent a total of 11 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on Top Album Sales.
30 sold 72,000 copies in the U.S. in the week ending Dec. 30, 2021 (down 60%) – the final tracking week of 2021 for MRC Data. After just six weeks in release, 30 sold 1.463 million copies in the U.S., and easily closed the year as the top-selling album – and the only album to sell a million copies.
And, with 1.463 million sold in 2021, 30 is the biggest selling album of any calendar year in the U.S. since 2018, when the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman sold 1.491 million.
Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart ranks the top-selling albums of the week based only on traditional album sales. The chart’s history dates back to May 25, 1991, the first week Billboard began tabulating charts with electronically monitored piece count information from SoundScan, now MRC Data. Pure album sales were the sole measurement utilized by the Billboard 200 albums chart through the list dated Dec. 6, 2014, after which that chart switched to a methodology that blends album sales with track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.
As for the rest of the top 10 on the latest Top Album Sales chart: Taylor Swift’s former No. 1 Red (Taylor’s Version) is a non-mover at No. 2 with 21,000 sold (down 56%), while Olivia Rodrigo’s chart-topping Sour climbs 6-3 with 20,000 sold (down 39%). NCT’s Universe: The 3rd Album, Neo Culture Technology moves 5-4 with 18,000 (down 51%), Billie Eilish’s former leader Happier Than Ever steps 7-5 with 13,000 (down 50%) and The Beatles’ No. 1 Abbey Road bumps 11-6 with 12,000 (down 46%).
A trio of former No. 1s are next on the list: NCT 127’s Sticker: The 3rd Album rises 16-7 with 12,000 (down 18%), Swift’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) ascends 13-8 with 11,000 (down 40%) and Harry Styles’ Fine Line climbs 12-9 with nearly 11,000 (down 42%). TWICE’s Formula of Love: O+T=<3 rounds out the top 10, falling 8-10 with just under 11,000 (down 57%).
Most titles on Top Album Sales post declines in week-over-week sales, as the latest tracking week (Dec. 24-30, 2021) reflected five days after Christmas – as compared to the Dec. 17-23 frame, when sales were boosted by music fans buying albums as Christmas gifts. In turn, only one album in the entire top 20 on the latest Top Album Sales chart posts a gain in sales – the Encanto film soundtrack, which zooms from No. 92 to No. 19 with 9,000 sold (up 78%).
In the week ending Dec. 30, there were 2.653 million albums sold in the U.S. (down 37.3%). Of that sum, physical albums (CDs, vinyl LPs, cassettes, etc.) comprised 2.151 million (down 42.1%) and digital albums comprised 502,000 (down 3.2%).
2021 Album Sales Recap: Total U.S. album sales increased by 6.3% in 2021 total 108.98 million (up from 102.48 million in 2020). It’s the first time overall album sales have posted a yearly increase since 2011, when sales rose by 1.3%. (A common thread in both 2021 and 2011: a new album release from Adele. Her mega-selling 21 album bowed in 2011, while 30 dropped in 2021.)
Physical album sales (CD, vinyl LP, cassette, etc.) grew by 21.7% in 2021 to 82.79 million (up from 68.06 million in 2020) – thanks largely to the continuing comeback story of the vinyl LP.
For the first time since MRC Data began tracking music sales in 1991, vinyl albums outsold CD albums for the year – and vinyl is now the leading format for album purchases overall in the U.S.
41.72 million vinyl albums were sold in 2021 (up 51.4% from 27.55 million in 2020). 2021 marked the 16th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew, and the largest year for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. Also in 2021, Vinyl LP sales saw their single-largest sales week of the MRC Data era, when 2.11 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 23.
40.59 million CD albums were sold in 2021 (up 1.1% from 40.16 million in 2020), making it the second-most popular format among consumers who purchased albums. Strikingly, CD album sales posted a yearly gain for the first time since 2004, when CD sales increased 4.6% to 665.5 million (from 636.5 million in 2003).
Digital album sales were the third-most popular format in 2021 for album purchases, and the segment fell 23.9% in 2021 to 26.19 million (down from 34.42 million in 2020).