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

Ed Sheeran


In one side, we have an album which would have sold an estimated 705,000 units if released in March this year. In the other side, we have one that moved 593,000 units and got extensively streamed by nearly 1,5 million more persons.

To define which album had the best first week results ever between the two, the full question ends up being – would 8% of Ed Sheeran streamers have bought the album if it wasn’t available on their streaming service? My expectation is that the answer is yes. Quite easily – most likely easily enough to even forget of the entire Christmas presents advantage too and challenge the overall 800,000 units figure. Surprising? Not that much.

After all, all sub-indicators from the 2,5:1 lead in LP sales, the 140,647 to 87,683 in lead single sales to the fairly tiny gap in downloads – 31% while the market dropped by more and in spite of Ed Sheeran having streaming strongly cutting the pie – suggest that indeed, on a perfectly aligned context, Divide would have outsold 25. This result is quite natural – in fact it is no coincidence if 25 was left out of streaming services during its first months – because ongoing plays wouldn’t have made up for massive CD sales lost upon release and during the Xmas rush. Basically, had 25 been available on streaming services from its release date, it would have sold way less than 800,307 units, not more.

Of course, since Oasis Be Here Now moved 663,389 units within’ 3 days only, some may very well put their coin on the dark horse as to which debut has been the biggest. Its sales hugely dropped in following days though so the 7 days total wouldn’t have been that big and giving market differences – streaming availability would have downgrade its physical sales a lot – they would have most likely lost the battle too.

Next question, will Divide ultimately top 25‘s 3,3 million sales? Well, this time you will need a little more patience before getting an answer!

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: BPI, OCC, Chartmasters.org.

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Ed’s sales are cute tho, real cute.


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 »


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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