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"We need more great stories like this in the music business."
—-Steve Barnett, Columbia Records Chairman
COLUMBIA GETS ADELE 'ROLLING"
Success of 21 is Continuation of Successful Launch
Columbia Records’ campaign which helped Adele’s sophomore album, 21, debut last week at #1 with 350k in sales, started where the one for her Grammy-winning debut, 19, ended, at Hollywood Bowl in June, 2009, in front of 19,000 fans.

That was the culmination of an 18-month-long plan that resulted in a Best New Artist nod and nearly platinum sales for the then-teenage U.K. diva, signed to the U.S. label from the indie XL by Columbia/Epic Label Group Chairman Rob Stringer and Columbia Records Chairman Steve Barnett. The album 19 is now nearing platinum, with 1.85 million digital tracks sold since its release in June 2008.

“Rob and I were absolutely captivated by her not only as an artist, but also as a person,” says Barnett. “She had a purist approach which we respected. She wanted to be on a major here and we were convinced that her talent would prevail.”

“Adele is the real deal,” says Stringer. “She writes, is a fantastic singer and in total control. We brought a sense of perspective and realism about how she could succeed in America. We’ve treated her with care, attention and love, and literally watched her grow up before our eyes.”

The 21 campaign began last summer, including an appearance on CMT with Darius Rucker, where she performed Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” and an October showcase at L.A.’s Largo for music supervisors, which resulted in a placement for the single, “Rolling in the Deep,” in the trailer for the movie I Am Number Four.

VH1’s Rick Krim has been an early supporter from the beginning, putting her into “You Oughta Know” rotation and supporting the “Rolling” single with rotation for more than two months before the album’s release on Feb. 22.  The album had 57k in pre-orders from iTunes and Amazon even before it was released.

The week of release was accompanied by a spate of TV appearances, including the Today Show, Letterman, Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel, CBS Early Show and Chelsea Lately. She’s also taped a Live from the Artist’s Den for PBS that will air later this year.

The stateside push comes in the wake of a Brit Awards performance which sent two of her albums and singles into the Top 5 in the U.K., the best such showing for a living artist since The Beatles.

“It just begins and ends with the music,” said SVP Marketing Scott Greer. “So we started playing the new album for people over the summer, including Target and Best Buy, and we were able to line up all our partners to create this groundswell of enthusiasm.”

“It just goes to show you don’t have to sell your soul to be successful,” says Stringer about their long-term approach. “The public responds when it gets something authentic.”

“We took nothing for granted,” says Barnett, who also credits manager Jonathan Dickins for the successful start. “This is as good a plan as I’ve been involved with at this company. We need more great stories like this in the music business.”

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