Less Is More: Sade Scores Gold In Debut Week.

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Against a broader backdrop of eroding CD sales, some artists are bucking the trend.

The elite club of overachievers now includes Sade, who scored first-week, US-based sales of more than 500,000 on Soldier of Love.  The album – across both physical and digital – registered 501,665 units, according to Nielsen Soundscan.  That beats recent first-weeks from Jay-Z (476,000 on The Blueprint 3) and U2 (484,000 on No Line on the Horizon).

The success speaks volumes about the current state of the business, and challenges modern-day thinking about marketing.  Instead of releasing small bits of music over shorter intervals, Tweeting non-stop, and maintaining constant contact with fans, Sade played an older-school strategy.  In fact, Soldier is the first album from Sade in ten years (the previous, Lovers Rock, was released in 2000).

Clearly, loyal fans appreciate the quality, and responded to the scarcity.  Instead of flooding the marketing channels, Sade remained rather reserved by turning down interviews and high-profile collaborations.  And, the old concept of mystery worked like magic, even in a hyper-saturated, A-D-D media landscape.

Still, those loyal fans are often older, and more inclined to purchase a disc or bundle of songs.  That was also an effect enjoyed by Susan Boyle, whose collection of covers sold north of 700,000 during its premiere week.  Similarly, The Beatles shifted 626,000 units on their remastered album collection (a number that counts entire box sets as one).