Adele and all those Grammys (Photo: Reuters)

Adele, the soulful British songstress, has broken all kinds of records with her hugely successful sophomore album ’21′ since it was released in the US in Feb 2011. The album, which picked up 6 Grammys this year,  was by far and away the biggest selling album of last year with 5.8 million copies sold. And in 2012, at the halfway mark, despite endless plays in supermarkets, gyms and your dentist’s waiting room, it’s still burning up cash registers, moving another 3.7 million units through the end of June, or more than four times the next best-selling album (Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee in case you wondered).

Combined, “21” has sold 9.5 million copies in 15 months, putting it just 500,000 copies shy of the magical 10 million-mark. That’s unheard of in today’s music business. To put that figure in perspective, consider that the most recent album to cross the 10 million sales threshold was Usher’s “Confession,” which only broke that barrier this year. “Confessions” was released eight years ago, in 2004!

In fact, overall album sales for the first half of 2012 were down 3.2 percent, according to Nielsen Soundscan, as fans buy fewer and fewer albums — probably in favor of streaming and other forms of entertainment away from music.

From our story this week:

U.S. album sales for the first half of 2012 slumped after seeing growth last year, while digital track sales rose, according to music sales figures released by Nielsen SoundScan on Thursday.

At mid-year 2012, album sales were down 3 percent from 2011 at 150.5 million units sold over the last six months. Digital song sales, however, notched a 6 percent rise with 698 million tracks downloaded since January.