Mumford & Sons’ ‘Babel’ earns biggest Billboard debut of 2012, hits No. 1 in UK and US

By Daniel S Levine,

Mumford & Sons’ new album, Babel, gave the music industry a much needed jolt, earning the biggest debut of the year on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album also topped the chart in the group’s native UK.

Billboard reported that the album sold 600,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks album sales for Billboard. That easily blows past the year’s previous bestseller, Justin Bieber’s Believe, which debuted with 374,000 copies sold. It’s also the best debut for a rock act since AC/DC’s 2008 album Black Ice sold 784,000 in November, 2008.

Babel was released by the indie label Glassnote Records, so it also had the second best debut for an independently distributed album. It also had the second largest digital sales week for an album with 420,000 copies downloaded.

Overall, it had the second best sales week of the year, following Adele’s 21, which sold 730,000 copies after she picked up five Grammys.

The album is propelled by the success of the lead single, “I Will Wait” and comes after their first album, Sigh No More, which has sold 2.3 million copies.

According to The Guardian, the album has also been a big hit in the UK, selling 159,000 copies, which was enough to top the album chart there.

Babel also set records for the music streaming service Spotify. Spotify chief content officer Ken Parks told Billboard.biz that an astounding one out of ten Spotify users listened to Babel during its first seven days. This may change the perception that Spotify hurts album sales, which is the reason why Coldplay and other artists have delayed the release of their albums on Spotify.

“I think it does speak volumes to this debate about whether [Spotify] cannibalizes sales. It's the biggest record of the year.” Parks said.

image: NBC



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