At only 28 years old, Ed Sheeran is handily the biggest male act of the last 10 years. He’s part of an elite group of artists who appeal to pretty much every single demographic.
How much have all of his albums sold across all formats? This article might answer your questions!
Is there anyone who hasn’t heard at least one Ed Sheeran song on the radio, or perhaps while scrolling through a popular playlist on Spotify?
Songs like Shape of You, Thinking Out Loud and Perfect are all instantly recognizable and the anthems of a generation. The British songwriter debuted in 2011 and slowly climbed all the way to global stardom.
His real sales are up for debate due to the ways of accounting for sales and streams which differ in each country. We will review accurately his discography, format by format, to get a clearer picture of his results so far.
As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge his results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Ed Sheeran‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming, but it will also determine their true popularity.
If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, the next page explains it with a short video. I fully recommend watching the video before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the figures.
The Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC)
There are two ways to understand this revolutionary concept. The first is the Scribe video posted below. If you are unaware of the CSPC method, you will get the full idea within just a few minutes.
If you are a mathematical person, and want to know the full method as well as formulas, you can read the full introduction article.
Now let’s get into the artist’s sales figures in detail in order to apply this concept and define the act’s true popularity!
Ed Sheeran Albums Sales
Original Album Sales – Comments
With his first three studio albums alone, Ed Sheeran is up to a massive 21,32 million albums sold. This makes for a stunning average of 7,1 million per album, which is simply extraordinary in this day and age.
At 5,15 million, + (Plus) was certainly a great start for the superstar. What’s more impressive is that this record is still going strong, as it was the 23rd biggest album of 2018 in Australia, as well as the 57th biggest album in his native UK.
At a stunning 8,84 million, x (Multiply) is getting closer and closer to the 9 million mark. Surprisingly enough, that’s not enough to become the best-selling album released in 2014, as Taylor Swift‘s 1989 stands at 10,3 million.
Since the last update exactly a year ago, ÷ (Divide) has now hit the 7 million plateau. It goes without saying that it destroyed the competition in 2017 since no other album managed even half of that figure.
Obviously, while No.6 Collaborations Project is technically a studio album consisting of brand new songs from the artist, it is of different nature than his previous efforts, thus making the decline of 91% seem much worse than it actually is.
Shawn Mendes Songs Sales
Physical Singles Sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.
In most countries like in France and the US, Ed Sheeran still has no physical single released. He issued a few records in this format in the UK and in Germany though.
The greatest success of these was The A Team which floated around the UK Top 100 physical chart for several years.
Naturally, numbers are low in relative terms and bring next to nothing to the overall tally.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between one album and one digital single.
At the moment everything looks so easy for Ed Sheeran that it seems he was massive from day 1.
Undoubtedly, he was off to a strong start in the UK where The A Team, his first official single, landed at #3 in June 2011. The song also reached the Top 3 in Australia and the Netherlands, but it wasn’t a A-League smash worldwide.
In the US, it entered charts more than one year later, peaking at a modest, but still promising, #16 position in January 2013. This run plus continuous catalog sales has led the track to over 5,55 million sales so far.
The second hit from Plus was Lego House with a #5 peak in the UK and a #42 spot in the US. It has sold 3,7 million units to date. Overall, songs from Ed Sheeran‘s debut album sold more than 16 million downloads and ringtones.
The British pop singer stepped up with the release of x (Multiply). The album contained two UK #1 hits with Sing and Thinking Out Loud plus 3 US Top 10 smashes, Don’t, Photograph plus the aforementioned Thinking Out Loud which went as high as #2.
This latter single sold a tremendous 11,43 million, a tally fairly impressive considering the market was already largely moving into streaming when it was issued as a single in November 2014.
Songs from the album sold 27,5 million copies. This doesn’t include the 5,2 million sales of the stand-alone singles among which I See Fire and Lay It All on Me which were later included into the album’s tracklist.
Then came the double A singles Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill. The former is one of the biggest hits in recent memory. Shape was #1 for 16 weeks in Canada, 15 in Australia, Denmark and France, 14 in the UK and Switzerland, 13 in Austria, Sweden and New-Zealand, 12 in the US and the Netherlands, and 11 in Germany among others.
This unreal success led the song to 9 million sales. While it doesn’t seem like much in comparison to 2008-2012 smashes, by 2017 standards that’s a terrific total.
In the same way, I Don’t Care scores an impressive total of almost 2 million for a 2019 track. It does so thanks to more than 1.1 million sales in China.
Perfect became utterly massive too shifting a wild 5 million pure sales to date. As of October 23rd 2019, his career-to-date tally of digital single sales stands at 79,64 million units.
Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. To factor in the growing impact of multiple Asian countries where these platforms aren’t always the go-to site for music streaming, more sources have been added.
In order to account for their real popularity in each relevant country, the below sources have been used along with the mentioned ratios that reflect the market share of each area.
– South Korea : Genie streams * 3.05 (consistent with Gaon streaming numbers)
– Japan : AWA streams * 100/5.5 (AWA has 5.5% of the Japanese streaming market)
– Elsewhere : Spotify streams * (370 – 8.5 – 9.5 – 33 – 9) / 207 (370 million global subscribers minus 8.5 million from South Korea minus 9.5 million from Japan minus 33 million from China divided by the number of Spotify only users minus 9 million more Asian users) + Genie streams * 3.05 (uses Genie rather than Spotify to extrapolate markets like Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam)
– China* : Xiami streams * 125/6.5 (Xiami has just over 5% of the Chinese streaming market)
– Elsewhere : Youtube views
*since 96.4% of Chinese streaming platforms are free users, that paid-for users pay less than $2 a month and that they are also used as video streaming platforms, their streams are weighted in par with YouTube streams.
Audio Stream value – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream value – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit
Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = ( Spotify * 310/207 + Genie * 3.05*2 + AWA * 100/5.5 ) / 1500 + ( Xiami * 125/6.5 + YouTube ) / 11750
Shape of You is the most streamed song on Spotify with a massive 2,686 billion streams.
He’s got 3 other immensely popular tracks. Perfect, Thinking Out Loud and Photograph have all no less than 1,2 billion streams while Castle on the Hill and Gelway Girl are both nearing the 1 billion plateau.
In South Korea (Genie), Shape of You is unsurprisingly a monster with 88,3 million streams. Thinking Out Loud, Photograph and Perfect all range from 20 to 11 million.
Japan (AWA) doesn’t seem to be as enthusiastic about Ed Sheeran as the rest of the world since numbers are lower. In reality, the streaming market there is still very weak.
Still, Shape of You pulls great numbers and proves to be a true A-league smash for the country standards.
Shape of You remains one of the few international songs to hit 100 million streams in China (Xiami). That’s far from being his only hit, though, as Thinking Out Loud, Perfect, Don’t, I See Fire and Photograph all range from 23 to 14 million.
Ed Sheeran‘s success is not limited to audio platforms. More impressively, Shape of You hits 6 billion views on YouTube, while Perfect recently hit 4 billion as well. Thinking Out Loud is his third biggest song with 3,268 billion views.
In terms of albums, ÷ (Divide) is the biggest with a massive 11,6 million equivalent album sales.
Full catalog breakdown
If you are familiar with the artist’s catalog and want to check details of each and every song, you can access to all of them right here.
Keep yourself up to date
Our website provides you a fantastic tool which fetchs updated Spotify streams as you request them, use it to watch these results grow day after day!
Ed Sheeran compilations sales
It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.
All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP.
Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.
The distribution process
How to understand this table? If you check this example of the Loose Change EP, these figures mean it sold 60,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 313,982 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.
The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package.
Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from Plus are responsible for 47% of Orphan tracklist attractiveness, which means it generated 28,000 of its 60,000 album sales, weighted 0.5 for EPs, and so on for the other records.
Compilations sales figures listing
Full Length related records Sales – Summary
Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw
These numbers are obtained by applying the method from the section The distribution process to all packages listed under Compilation sales figures listing category.
Total Album (all types) Sales per Country
Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.
Ed Sheeran Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Ed Sheeran achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!
In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from Plus released in digital format sold the equivalent of 2,411,000 album albums – 16,075,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.
As a reminder:
- Studio Album: sales of the original album
- Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
- Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
- Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
- Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)
With two albums above the 20 million mark, one can hardly doubt the immense global appeal of Ed Sheeran.
The album + (Plus) was relatively unnoticed in various places but it has been attracting attention strongly ever since thanks to the push coming from its follow up albums.
A few years ago, many chart enthusiasts didn’t think Ed Sheeran would be able to match the success of x (Multiply). Why? The success of such a monster record is often hard to replicate, especially in this day and age. He didn’t just match it, but rather, surpassed it.
The album ÷ (Divide) climbs all the way up to 22,2 million equivalent album sales, topping x (Multiply)‘s 20,87 million.
This is despite the former selling about 1,5 million less than the latter in original album format. Another example of pure sales not being representative of the full picture.
Both ÷ (Divide) and x (Multiply) are only topped by Adele albums 21 and 25 among 2010s decade top sellers overall.
As we mentioned earlier, No.6 Collaborations Project is in different nature than his previous records, but it still registers a solid 3,3 million album equivalents roughly 3 months after its release.
When we studied Ed Sheeran‘s career exactly 1 year ago today, he had just hit 54 million equivalent album sales. Today, he’s up to a massive 61,07 million.
Singles CSPC results
The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, it includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.
1. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Shape of You [÷ (Divide)] – 7,710,000
2. 2014 – Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud [x (Multiply)] – 5,810,000
3. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Perfect [÷ (Divide)] – 4,500,000
4. 2014 – Ed Sheeran – Photograph [x (Multiply)] – 3,850,000
5. 2010 – Ed Sheeran – The A Team [+ (Plus)] – 2,690,000
6. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill [÷ (Divide)] – 2,050,000
7. 2013 – Ed Sheeran – I See Fire [x (Multiply)] – 1,910,000
8. 2014 – Ed Sheeran – Don’t [x (Multiply)] – 1,810,000
9. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl [÷ (Divide)] – 1,770,000
10. 2011 – Ed Sheeran – Lego House [+ (Plus)] – 1,640,000
If you feel inspired by this list, we just created this CSPC Ed Eheeran playlist on Spotify!
Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that his sales represent 22.82 million times the purchase of his entire discography. Coupled with his total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 211.
Records & Achievements
- At 61,069,000 EAS, Ed Sheeran is the highest selling solo artist who debuted in 2011 or later.
- At 20,870,000 EAS, x (Multiply) is the most successful album from 2014, 4th of the decade.
- At 22,217,000 EAS, Divide is the most successful album from 2017, 3rd of the decade.
- Both x (Multiply) and Divide are the most successful male albums since Eminem‘s Eminem Show from 2002.
- At 5,810,000 EAS, Thinking Out Loud is the most successful song from 2014.
- At 7,710,000 EAS, Shape Of You is the most successful song from 2017, 5th of the decade.
- At 11,602,000 EAS from streaming, Divide is the most successful streaming album of all-time.
- At 7,870,000 EAS from streaming, x (Multiply) is the 3rd most successful streaming album of all-time.
- At 2,686,000,000 streams, Shape of You is the most streamed song ever on Spotify.
- At 10,977,389 streams, I Don’t Care holds the most 1-day streams ever on Spotify.
- Ed Sheeran became the first artist ever to debut with two songs inside the Top 10 in the US in the same week (Shape of You #1, Castle On The Hill #6).
- At 33 weeks, Shape of You is the longest running Top 10 hit ever in the US.
- Ed Sheeran became the first artist ever to debut at #1 and #2 in the UK (Shape of You #1, Castle On The Hill #2).
- In the UK, Ed Sheeran holds the record for most simultaneous hits inside the Top 5 (5), Top 10 (9), Top 20 (16), Top 100 (19), all set on Divide‘s release week.
- At 672,000 units in week 1, Divide is the 3rd fastest selling album ever in the UK.
- At 6, + (Plus) has the record for the most calendar years reaching the Top 10 album chart in the UK (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017).
- At 99 weeks, x (Multiply) is the longest running solo album ever inside the UK Top 10 album chart. It also holds the record for most spells inside the Top 10 at 9.
- At 41 weeks, Ed Sheeran has the most weeks at #1 in the UK Album chart this decade.
- At 15 weeks, Shape of You is the longest running #1 hit ever in Australia.
NB: EAS means Equivalent Album Sales.
You may be interested in…
… best-selling artists, albums, and singles
To improve your navigation we created several amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector article. Click on it to see the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far!
… similar artists
To put figures from this article into perspective, click on the images below to reach career breakdowns of similar artists:
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!