At only 30 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.
Coming back with = (Equals), the 4th set of his massive series, will he be able to replicate his success one more time?
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 with a major label 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 sold a massive 22.17 million albums sold. This makes for a stunning average of 7.39 million per album, which is simply extraordinary in this day and age.
At 5.45 million, + (Plus) was certainly a great start for the superstar. What’s more impressive is that this record is still going strong.
At a stunning 9.05 million, x (Multiply) is now over 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 10.4 million.
The 2017 blockbuster ÷ (Divide) stands at 7.65 million. It goes without saying that it destroyed the competition in its release year 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 87% seem much worse than it actually is.
Sales of = (Equals) will be a real test for the artist. He can smash again… or appear to be several years past his peak already.
Ed Sheeran 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 had no physical single released until 2021. 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.
The increase of collectors generated great sales for both Bad Habits and Shivers.
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 an 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 5.68 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 3.54 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 11.74 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 33.6 million copies including the 5.4 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 brought the song to 9.36 million sales. While it doesn’t seem like much in comparison to 2008-2012 smashes, by 2017 standards that’s a terrific total. Perfect also went through the roof, selling upwards 5 million with a late 2017 release from an album that had already sold bucketloads.
In the same way, I Don’t Care scores an impressive total of 2.47 million for a 2019 track. It does so thanks to more than 1.1 million sales in China.
Bad Habits, at 620,000 units, is doing wonders for a 2021 single, especially with no Chinese release.
As of October 2021, his career-to-date tally of digital single sales stands at 84.5 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)
Video Streams– China* : QQ video streams * 50 if the song is available for audio stream, QQ video streams * 5 elseway (scale built based on known figures for several major artists)– 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 on 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 + ( QQ views* 50(or 5) + YouTube ) / 11750
Shape of You is the most streamed song on Spotify with a massive 3.4 billion streams. Perfect is 3rd all-time with a no less impressive 2.7 billion. On YouTube, they are as ridiculously big with 13 billion combined.
Together, these two songs add for 8 million equivalent album sales from streams alone.
He’s got 3 other immensely popular tracks. Thinking Out Loud, Photograph, and I Don’t Care have all top at least 1.6 billion streams while Castle on the Hill, Beautiful People, Galway Girl and Happier are all over the 1 billion plateau.
In South Korea (Genie), Shape of You is unsurprisingly a monster with 119 million streams. Thinking Out Loud, Photograph, Perfect, I Don’t Care and Bad Habits all range from 15 to 30 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 remained weak until recently.
Still, Shape of You pulls great numbers and proves to be a true A-league smash for the country’s standards.
Shape of You remains one of the few international songs to come close to 1 billion streams in China. That’s far from being his only hit, though, as many other songs record great numbers.
In terms of albums, ÷ (Divide) is the biggest with 15.3 million equivalent album sales. No need to say it’s the most streamed album of all-time, with no real challenger at this level.
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 122,500 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 1,172,153 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 84% of Orphan tracklist attractiveness, which means it generated 103,000 of its 122,500 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 results table, all categories display figures in equivalent album sales. If different, pure sales are listed between parentheses.
|#||Cover||Album||Total CSPC||Sales*||Streams||Total CSPC|
|Studio Albums||Other LPs||Physical Singles||Digital Singles||Last verified||Auto update||Daily Increase|
|1||+ (Plus)||12,327,000||5,455,000||629,000||19,000(63,000)||2,411,000(16,080,000)||3,564,000 (10/29/21)||3,813,000 (06/25/22)||Av.: 1,040LD: 920||12,327,000|
|2||x (Multiply)||24,820,000||9,055,000||200,000||11,000(38,000)||5,048,000(33,660,000)||9,843,000 (10/29/21)||10,506,000 (06/25/22)||Av.: 2,780LD: 2,650||24,820,000|
|3||÷ (Divide)||27,735,000||7,655,000||116,000||8,000(26,000)||3,353,000(22,360,000)||15,322,000 (10/29/21)||16,603,000 (06/25/22)||Av.: 5,360LD: 5,320||27,735,000|
|4||No.6 Collaborations Project||7,709,000||995,000||73,000||0(0)||632,000(4,220,000)||5,526,000 (10/29/21)||6,009,000 (06/25/22)||Av.: 2,020LD: 1,920||7,709,000|
|5||=||3,428,000||0||33,000||14,000(45,000)||126,000(840,000)||1,108,000 (10/29/21)||3,255,000 (06/25/22)||Av.: 8,990LD: 5,920||3,428,000|
|*Pure sales figures updated on 10/30/21. 'Av.' stands for Average, 'LD' for Last Day.|
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 1/6750 for Video stream)
With two albums well, well 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. It is already up to 12 million equivalent album sales.
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 reproduce, 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 26.45 million equivalent album sales, topping x (Multiply)‘s 24.16 million.
This is despite the former selling 1.4 million less than the latter in original album format. Another example of pure sales not being representative of the full picture.
As we mentioned earlier, No.6 Collaborations Project is of different nature than his previous records, but it still registers a solid 7.2 million album equivalents.
While = (Equals) seems off to a cold start on streaming platforms, it is already up to 1.28 million equivalent album sales, mainly thanks to the success of Bad Habits.
Former studies of Ed Sheeran sales reflected 54 million sales up to exactly 3 years ago, and 61 million 2 years ago. The singer continues to gain about 7 million a year, now amassing 76,213,000 equivalent album sales.
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)] – 8,620,000
2. 2014 – Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud [x (Multiply)] – 6,530,000
3. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Perfect [÷ (Divide)] – 5,840,000
4. 2014 – Ed Sheeran – Photograph [x (Multiply)] – 4,710,000
5. 2010 – Ed Sheeran – The A Team [+ (Plus)] – 3,240,000
6. 2019 – Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – I Don’t Care [No.6 Collaborations Project] – 2,480,000
7. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill [÷ (Divide)] – 2,360,000
8. 2013 – Ed Sheeran – I See Fire [x (Multiply)] – 2,090,000
9. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl [÷ (Divide)] – 2,050,000
10. 2014 – Ed Sheeran – Don’t [x (Multiply)] – 1,950,000
11. 2017 – Ed Sheeran – Happier [÷ (Divide)] – 1,830,000
12. 2011 – Ed Sheeran – Lego House [+ (Plus)] – 1,770,000
13. 2011 – Ed Sheeran – Give Me Love [+ (Plus)] – 1,600,000
14. 2014 – Ed Sheeran – Sing [x (Multiply)] – 1,560,000
15. 2019 – Ed Sheeran ft. Khalid – Beautiful People [No.6 Collaborations Project] – 1,520,000
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 25.80 million times the purchase of his entire discography. Coupled with his total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 251.
Records & Achievements
- At 76,213,000 EAS, Ed Sheeran is the highest selling solo artist who debuted in 2011 or later.
- At 24,157,000 EAS, x (Multiply) is the most successful album from 2014, 4th of the decade.
- At 26,454,000 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 6,530,000 EAS, Thinking Out Loud is the most successful song from 2014.
- At 8,620,000 EAS, Shape Of You is the most successful song from 2017, 5th of the decade.
- At 15,322,000 EAS from streaming, Divide is the most successful streaming album of all-time.
- At 9,843,000 EAS from streaming, x (Multiply) is the 5th most successful streaming album of all-time.
- At 3,405,382,000 streams, Shape of You is the most streamed song ever on Spotify.
- At 10,977,389 streams, I Don’t Care held the most 1-day streams ever on Spotify when first released.
- 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 was the longest running Top 10 hit ever in the US by the end of its chart run.
- 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. Divide is runner up at 98. The latter also holds the record for most spells inside the Top 10 at 12.
- At 41 weeks, Ed Sheeran has the most weeks at #1 in the UK Album chart of the 2010s.
- At 15 weeks, Shape of You was the longest running #1 hit ever in Australia until Tones & I‘s Dance Monkey.
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!