And Finally Artist News Labels & Publishers Releases

Ed Sheeran = 1

By | Published on Monday 8 November 2021

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran’s new album ‘=’ has gone straight to number one in the UK, to the surprise of absolutely no one. It’s done all sorts of numbers, which just make everyone else look bad.

The album racked up 139,000 sales (and equivalent streams) – outselling the rest of the top 30 combined. In fact, it’s the best opening week since 2017, when some guy called Ed Sheeran released an album called ‘÷’.

It always feels really clunky to talk about actual sales and equivalent streams together, but the way the chart is calculated is quite clunky. And you’re probably thinking, “Pah! Yeah, weird to talk about ‘sales’ when most of that 139,000 number will have come from streams anyway”. You’re wrong though, so stop saying that.

Actually, only 18% of Sheeran’s “chart sales” – as the Official Charts Company likes to call them – were streams. Almost as many – 14% – were downloads, while 68% came from physical sales. You know, discs and that. A whole 11,600 of those sales were of vinyl, Sheeran’s record being the week’s biggest-seller on that format, obviously.

“Thank you so much for making ‘=’ the number one album in the UK this week”, says Sheeran, via the Official Charts Company. “I don’t know what else to say, you guys are great. Thank you so much for all listening to it, I hope you enjoy it. I hope to see you on tour next year”.

No, thank you Ed, for allowing us to talk about the kind of numbers we don’t often get to see these days. Although let’s not forget that there’s a new Adele album on the way, which is likely to give us another opportunity. It’s her return that’s made Sheeran’s performance on the singles chart less impressive than usual.

Sure, yeah, he currently holds three positions in the top four. Is one of them number one though? No, it is not. His previous chart-topper ‘Shivers’ was up three places to number two, ‘Bad Habits’ was up six to number three, and ‘Overpass Graffiti’ was a new entry at four. But the number one single in the UK remains Adele’s ‘Easy On Me’.

It was a tight race, with just a few thousand ‘chart sales’ separating the top two tracks. Adele’s not about to be beaten by Ed though. No thank you. Although, if you like your sales pure, Sheeran did top the chart of download-only sales that no one pays any attention to. ‘Overpass Graffiti’ was downloaded 23,400 times last week.

I say Adele won’t be beaten, but actually, she’s already trailing Sheeran for this week’s number one. It could all change, but in the latest numbers released by the OCC, ‘Shivers’ is atop the chart again.

Can they keep this up until Christmas? We’ll see. Sheeran does have the advantage of having a Christmas single ready to go, of course. A collaboration with Elton John, no less. That’s cheating, really.