Understanding: why Ed Sheeran did better than Adele in the UK

Ed Sheeran nail art

Divide streaming figures meaning

As usual, we need to start our appreciations with facts. You may be aware that a good part of streams in the UK are double-counted in both sides, the Single and the Album chart both for ranking and sales totals purpose. To avoid confusion, we need to focus on the lower-scale figures, the singles one.

Divide 16 tracks registered 781,094 streaming singles sales. The streaming to sales ratio in Singles side is 150:1, which implies they got the insane number of 117,164,100 plays. To clarify the situation, figures below:

  • 781,094 streaming singles sales
  • translated from 117,164,100 streams
  • an average of 7,322,756 streams per song
  • the equivalent of 7,322,756 full-album streams

Please notice that 78,944,000 streams, 67% of the total, were counted in both sides – creating the 78,944 album sales with a 1000:1 ratio -, while the remaining 33% was registered only in the Singles front.

Too many figures? I’ll just highlight the one that matters – Divide streams equal to a gigantic 732,276 persons listening the album in full as much as 10 times during its first week.

Thus, the “592,598 paid-for sales plus 78,944 streaming units” should be read as “592,598 purchasers plus 732,276 streamers”. Quite a different story. If you change the definition of what you consider to be a dedicated streamer, that would have been interested in purchasing the album if it wasn’t available at Spotify or Apple Music, to 5 full-album streams for the week, then you have 1,464,552 likely buyers, without factoring in the 592,598 who really bought it. Thus, even if official sales units are lower, Divide was consumed by way more persons than 25, it is just that streams need a long period to register as one sale.

It would have take only 14% of Ed Sheeran extensive streamers to make up for the sales gap between his album and Adele record. This is more releases differences implied by those distinct contexts though…

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ABJ

Ed’s sales are cute tho, real cute.

Mirai

MJD… This is a little bit off-topic but I need to know your opinion on something. What do you think of Ed Sheeran placing all songs from the same album in the UK official singles Top 20 on the week of release, while the streams of those songs were also counted within the albums chart? Do you think that’s normal/acceptable? Of course, Ed Sheeran is just the best example illustrating that problem… This is happening again with Drake this week and will happen again every time a big acts releases their album from now on, unless the OCC establishes new… Read more »

Mirai

Sorry for taking so long to reply. It is a tricky issue to address I thought I’d take my time before replying. First I would like to know… What were/are those formulas that you created to factor in streaming? Are these very different from the ones currently used by (for instance) the OCC? I’m very curious to know! You’re right. I didn’t really realize double counting existed, and I didn’t really realize how big of an issue that was until the Ed Sheeran case happened. But now it’s just so obvious that something is wrong… I mean, 3 weeks ago… Read more »

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