The numbers are in. Adele's '25' has broken every first-week sales record imaginable. According to Billboard magazine, her first week U.S. sales came in 3.38 Million copies. This record doesn't just shatter recent sales records, it is the largest week of album sales since Nielsen Music started tracking them with the Soundscan system in 1991. With this kind of a running start entering the Christmas season, look for the album to continue to shatter records. I wouldn't be surprised to see it be the fastest selling Diamond record (10 Million Album sales) in history. What makes this even more amazing is the atmosphere in which she has accomplished this incredible feat. Albums continue to sell less and less overall year after year. I'm not a data expert, but I can spot a declining trend.
So, is Adele just a statistical outlier? Or, are there some actual, tangible reasons why she's enjoying this incredible success? Many of us, like Adele, compete in industries with ample competition and tough market conditions. What are some lessons we can learn from Adele to skyrocket to the top of our industries?
1. Put in your 10,000 hours developing your craft. I recently gave a lecture at a local university, and I was amazed that none of the students in attendance had read Malcolm Gladwell's classic, Outliers. If you haven't read that book, stop reading this blog immediately, and go read that. From Bill Gates to The Beatles, Gladwell highlights the hidden work of preparation before the world's biggest successes went to the world stage. To many, Adele was an overnight success. We first discovered her when she happened to be the musical guest on the SNL episode with Sarah Palin. However, she put in her time long before that. "Adele left public school at 14 to attend the BRIT performing arts school, where musicians like Leona Lewis and Amy Winehouse also honed their crafts." (Mic.com) They must be doing something right at the BRIT performing arts school because both Amy and Adele were/are completely original artists. When she launched onto the world stage, she was ready. She was poised and confident and comfortable in her own skin. She discovered her original voice. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Kelly Clarkson who developed, and continue to develop, on a very large stage. If you're given an incredible opportunity to go to market, it would be hard to say no, but in the meantime, hone your craft and find your original voice!
2. Don't rush your
3. If your product is truly worthwhile, you can defy industry trends.Music has been moving steadily away from album sales. With the advent of iTunes, it has moved toward single sales. With streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, it's hard to even make a sale at all. I work in an office full of millennials, many of whom have never bought an entire record in their life.
4. Don't speak ill of your competition. I like the show the Voice. I love the blind auditions when the judges turn around for an aspiring artist based solely on their vocal talent. I hate the following round they call the "battle rounds." The show stages it like a boxing match between two artists. How stupid. Art is not competition. It's about
5. There is nothing as attractive as humility and gratitude. Here is Adele's tweet going into
It feels genuine to me. It's an artist grateful for the support of her fans. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving weekend, and in an attempt to keep that spirit alive through the much more commercial Christmas season, express the same kind of gratitude to your customers in this season. They allow you to have your life and livelihood just like Adele's fans allow her to live her dreams. If you're not living your dreams, maybe it's time to go back to step 1 and start focusing on your 10,000 hours all over again.