Ed Sheeran was inescapable last week in the run-up to the release of his new album ‘÷’ (or ‘Divide’ for easier reading).
From TV appearances and video interviews to massive promotion on streaming services to running around HMV wearing a t-shirt of his own album cover, he was everywhere. So far, that’s translating into some exceptionally strong stats.
Start with Spotify, which continues to be markedly more willing than rivals to publish detailed figures for its platform.
Sheeran hit Spotify’s record for most first-day album streams out of the park: his 56.7m total was 27.7m more than the previous record-holder, ‘Starboy’ by The Weeknd. All 16 tracks from ‘Divide’ appeared in Spotify’s Global Top 50 chart, including hogging the top 16 spots in its UK Top 50 at one point.
This isn’t just a story of streams though. The UK’s Official Charts Company reported 232k sales for ‘Divide’ on its first day.
And that really does mean ‘sales’ – those were physical and download sales, with streams not included. Compare that to the most copies sold by an album in its first week in 2016 in the UK: David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ with its 143.5k total.
But this isn’t just a story of (audio) streams and sales though. The entire ‘Divide’ album was posted on YouTube to Sheeran’s official channel on Friday too, as a mixture of official audio and lyric videos.
The 14 new videos added on Friday have already been watched more than 66.7m times on YouTube, joining the existing lyric-video and official-video versions of singles ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle on the Hill’ on the channel.
Entire albums being posted on YouTube used to be a stick to hit Google’s video service with over its user-generated content uploads. Now, for an artist like Sheeran and his label Atlantic Records, the tactic is a key part of what’s likely to be one of the biggest album launches of the year.
For this particular artist, at least, streams and videos are a rising tide that’s even floating the boat of physical and download sales.