Ed Sheeran tops Billboard chart with help from album sales

Ed Sheeran's new album, =, opens at the top of the Billboard chart with the equivalent of 118,000 sales in the United States. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - English singer Ed Sheeran may be one of the world's most popular artistes on music streaming services, but his latest turn at No. 1 owes a lot to old-fashioned album sales.

Sheeran's new album, = (pronounced "equals"), opens at the top of the Billboard chart with the equivalent of 118,000 sales in the United States, including nearly 62 million streams and 68,000 copies sold as a complete package, according to MRC Data, Billboard's tracking arm.

Those numbers are modest for a star of Sheeran's magnitude.

The 30-year-old singer draws 76.8 million listeners a month on Spotify, more than any other artiste except Canadian singer Justin Bieber, and Sheeran's 2017 song Shape Of You is that service's biggest hit ever, with 2.96 billion streams worldwide. Its music video also has 5.5 billion views on YouTube.

Yet the 62 million clicks for = is the least number of streams for any new title at No. 1 this year, and streaming overall accounts for only about 39 per cent of its total consumption in US.

Of the 68,000 copies that were sold as complete packages, 33,000 were digital downloads, 26,000 were CDs and 9,000 were vinyl LPs, according to MRC.

Also this week, Canadian rapper Drake's Certified Lover Boy falls one spot to No. 2, country singer Morgan Wallen's Dangerous: The Double Album is No. 3 and rapper Doja Cat's Planet Her is No. 4.

American rapper Megan Thee Stallion's Something For Thee Hotties, a compilation of stray tracks, opens at No. 5 with the equivalent of 39,000 sales.

On the singles chart, English singer Adele's Easy On Me holds at No. 1 for a third week, while anticipation in the music industry builds for her new album, 30, due on Nov 19.

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