National Album Day returns for 2021, with its theme 'Celebrating Women In Music'

Adele named the UK's Official best-selling female album artist of the century

London, 8th March 2021 National Album Day will return for its fourth edition on Saturday, 16th October and this year will take as its theme Celebrating Women in Music, shining a light on the huge contribution made by women and female-identifying artists to our music and culture through the art form of the album.

To coincide with the announcement, National Album Day today also reveals the Top Ten women album artists since the start of 2000 according to Official Charts Company data, with Adele named the best-selling women album artist of the century. The list also features such icons as Amy Winehouse, Kylie, Madonna and Britney Spears.

Between them the Top Ten artists have sold in excess of 72 million albums (including streamed album equivalents), with three of the artists British – Adele, Dido and Amy Winehouse.

The Official Charts data also reveal the Top Ten albums by women over this period, with Adele featuring no less than three times.  Each of her seminal albums has been BRIT Certified at least 8x Platinum in the UK, with 2011’s 21 shifting just shy of 6 million copies in the UK alone. The most successful album of this period was Adele’s 21, followed by Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black (marking its 15th anniversary in October) and fellow Brit Leona Lewis’ Spirit was the fourth best-selling album.  Remarkably, Adele, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis are all alumni of The BRIT School, the leading Performing & Creative Arts school in the UK that is free to attend.

This year’s Celebrating Women in Music themed National Album Day creates the perfect opportunity to revisit iconic and influential albums by best-selling women and female-identified artists; from the unique, diverse and contemporary acts of the present day and throughout the history of recorded music, spanning all genres and decades. It will also point to the exciting women artists of tomorrow, and highlight the role of women within the wider music community, including songwriters and producers, as well as featured artists and performers.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, and Kim Bayley, Chief Executive Entertainment Retailers Association, the organisations behind National Album Day, said jointly:

 “We are delighted that National Album Day is returning for a fourth edition, shining a light this year on the tremendous contribution women make to music through the album format, supported by our official partners Bowers & Wilkins and BBC Sounds.

“While the ways in which fans enjoy music constantly evolve, the album remains central to artists’ self-expression and to fans’ understanding of what an artist has to say. National Album Day is an opportunity for artists and fans alike to celebrate this much loved artform and remind ourselves of its continuing power to tell stories, influence and inspire.”

Top 10 Women Album Artists: 2000-2021 (up to week 6)  Based on Official Charts Company data.

  1. Adele
  2. P!nk
  3. Madonna
  4. Rihanna
  5. Dido
  6. Amy Winehouse
  7. Kylie Minogue
  8. Beyoncé
  9. Britney Spears
  10. Lady Gaga      

Top 10 albums by women artists: 2000-2021 (up to week 6) Based on Official Charts Company data.

  1. Adele ‘21’
  2. Amy Winehouse ‘Back To Black’
  3. Adele ‘25’
  4. Leona Lewis ‘Spirit’
  5. Lady Gaga ‘Fame’
  6. Dido ‘No Angel’
  7. Dido ‘Life For Rent’
  8. Norah Jones ‘Come Away With Me’
  9. Adele ‘19’
  10. Emeli Sandé ‘Our Version Of Events’                                                         

National Album Day is organised jointly by the BPI – the UK independent and major labels association (The BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize) – and the Entertainment Retailers Association (Record Store Day).  Presented in partnership with official audio partner Bowers & Wilkins, the event is supported across broadcast partner the BBC with highlights available to listen to on BBC Sounds, along with the UK’s recorded music community including AIM and other trade associations, retailers and digital/streaming services, and album platforms such as Classic Album Sundays and The Record Club.

Renowned audio brand, Bowers & Wilkins, continues its support for National Album Day as official audio partner. Built on a passion for music, Bowers & Wilkins has been on an unrelenting pursuit of the highest quality listening experiences for music fans for over 60 years, always delivering sound that remains true to how the artist intended their album to be heard.

Giles Pocock, Vice-President, Brand Marketing, Bowers & Wilkins said: “We’re proud to continue our support for National Album Day, whilst reaffirming our commitment to celebrating the art and craftsmanship of the album format. This year’s theme is particularly pertinent, shining a light on the contribution and exceptional talent of women involved in the creation of music in all its forms.”

Based on Official Charts Company data, 155.4 million albums or their equivalent were purchased, downloaded or streamed in 2020 – up 8.2% on the previous year.  Even during the first six months of a Covid-hit 2020, album equivalent sales rose by 6.8%. The album format does particularly well on vinyl, with around 5 million LPs purchased in 2020 – marking 13 years of consecutive growth – and even the humble cassette is now finding favour again, with over 150,000  sold in 2020, the highest level since 2003.

Since its launch in 2018, National Album Day has been supported by a diverse range of artists and musicians including Lewis Capaldi, Mark Ronson, La Roux, Elbow, Paloma Faith, Blossoms, Kim & Marty Wilde, Billy Ocean, Alice Cooper, Novelist, Tom Odell, Mahalia, Toyah Willcox, Jazzie B and Orbital among many others, and has hosted a variety of events and activities including Classic Album Sunday and Tape Notes events, in-store artist appearances, record store promotions, and two Network Rail exhibitions in major cities across the UK.

Further announcements will be made periodically, including details of the artist ambassadors who will be supporting National Album Day this year, and the product titles that will be realised to coincide with the event.

Keep track of the National Album Day website for more news and how to get involved over the coming months.


BPI represents the UK’s recorded music industry. We champion the interests of our membership which includes more than 400 independent music companies. Together, BPI’s members account for 85% of all music sold in the United Kingdom.