Ed Sheeran’s two comeback tracks, ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle on the Hill’, have been streamed 78.9m times on Spotify alone in their first week of release.
Meanwhile, the two tracks’ lyric videos have notched up 63.6m views on YouTube, while also setting unspecified records on Apple Music.
A week on from their semi-surprise release, the two tracks remain at the top of Spotify’s Global Top 50 chart: ‘Shape of You’ with 7.1m daily plays and ‘Castle on the Hill’ with 4.3m daily plays.
Their first-week streams on that service – 46.6m and 32.4m respectively – represent a strong start, but there’s a long way to go to catch up to the 554.8m streams of Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’, let alone the 784m streams of ‘Thinking Out Loud’.
Sheeran’s new album (÷ or ‘Divide’) will be released on 3 March across all digital services, with its first two tracks doing some impressive heavy-lifting to set things up for that release.
Sheeran has jumped from 25th to 13th place in Spotify’s artist rankings, with 26 million monthly listeners. No surprise, as the two new songs are at the top of several prominent playlists on the service, with heavy promotion on Spotify’s homepage and other parts of the service.
Along the way, ‘Shape of You’ beat Spotify’s record for one-day streams (Adele’s ‘Hello’) with 7.9m plays in a day. Meanwhile, label Atlantic Records says that the tracks also secured the biggest ever ‘day’ streams on Apple Music (alas, without a public figure for that); and peaked at 128 number-one placements in Apple’s iTunes downloads chart.
(The label also said that the tracks had done “over 137 million combined streams in less than a week (Apple/Spotify/YouTube/Deezer)” in its press release, but there has been at least a day and possibly two of additional streams since then, as reflected in our figures this morning showing 142.5m combined streams from Spotify and YouTube alone.)
First-week stats like this are fun, but streaming is a marathon, not a sprint. The business is shifting towards repeat plays over a much longer period of time, as the figures for Sheeran’s previous big hits on Spotify show.
Previous album ‘X’ came out in mid-2014, so its tracks have had two-and-a-half years to build up their head of steam. It’s impossible to project where ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle on the Hill’ will be come summer 2019, then, but they are both off to a very strong start.