A step in the future – Ed Sheeran’s success in 5 years
Ok, streaming is here to stay and the industry as a whole will become much bigger. While that’s clear, this remains kind of conceptual as if the industry is worth $15 billion or $35 billion it doesn’t change much for you and me. It does change a lot of things for artists we support though. With this new information about streaming, we get back to our classic question, can someone realistically top the results of the album Thriller, or at least come close?
Let’s use as an example the most successful album of the year, Ed Sheeran‘s Divide. I’ll completely ignore its 4 million-ish pure album sales as we saw on the previous page that the $7,5 billion revenues coming from physical sales and downloads will reduce to $3 billion by 2025, with drops in units even sharper than in gross. In any case, pure album sales will soon be a niche market and as such not relevant to gauge the success of an album.
As of today, Divide has amassed the total of 4,494,371,294 streams on Spotify. Extrapolating it to all platforms with our CSPC formula, this represents 7,218,232,684 audio streams. With the now standard 1 album = 1,500 streams equivalence, that’s worth 4,812,155 albums. The LP is everything except done though. It keeps registering over 10 million streams per day with Perfect and Shape of You currently topping 5 million combined on Spotify alone. With Perfect still growing, all the year end lists that will put Shape of You on top and with all awards ceremonies during the first quarter of 2018, the album will continue to be very strong for 6 more months, realistically hitting 6 billion Spotify streams by then. In other words, by the end of its promotional campaign, Divide will be on roughly 6,5 million equivalent album sales from audio streams alone.
We saw that the streaming avenue was going to be worth over $7 billion this year, in 2017. By 2022, even if streaming increases more slowly than now, we calculated they could be worth as much as $26 billion. If an album performs exactly the same as Divide did this year but in 5 years time, it should be able to record some 26 million equivalent album sales from streams in a 13 month time frame. This sounds like a lot? Of course it does, but Ed Sheeran‘s success is massive, and if the industry goes back to market figures similar to those from the 90s, there is no reason why the top seller will sell less than what 90s’ blockbusters used to sell. Obviously, as sustaining the growth of streaming for many years will require markets from countries like China and India to be far more developed, an artist who aims to score those figures will need to be really global. That’s fine enough, one needs to achieve extraordinary feats to join the all-time top sellers.
If you have been following the music industry in recent years, during this truly dark era, be ready to be happy as the future is more promising than ever before.
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question.
Sources: IFPI, BPI, RIAA, newzoo