Ed Sheeran a streaming giant but new album Collaborations just a modest hit

Songs from Ed Sheeran's new album were featured on more than 800 official Spotify playlists.
Songs from Ed Sheeran's new album were featured on more than 800 official Spotify playlists.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Ed Sheeran is the most popular streaming artist in the world.

But how much of a hit is his latest album, the guest-heavy No. 6 Collaborations Project?

On Spotify, 71 million people around the globe listen to at least one Sheeran song every month - making him, by that metric at least, the biggest on the platform by a fair margin.

Songs from his new album were featured on more than 800 official Spotify playlists.

With such a vast audience, and Spotify's promotional muscle behind the album, one would expect blockbuster opening-week numbers for No. 6 Collaborations Project.

Its list of special appearances includes Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Eminem, Camila Cabello, Chris Stapleton and more.

Yet while the album opened at No. 1 on Billboard's chart, giving Sheeran his third chart-topper, its numbers were modest for a high-profile project.


The cover to Ed Sheeran's latest album, No 6 Collaborations Project. PHOTO: ASYLUM/ATLANTIC

 

No. 6 Collaborations Project had the equivalent of 173,000 sales in the United States, the seventh-biggest opening of the year.

According to data from Nielsen, its total number included 70,000 copies sold as a complete album and 121 million streams - a number less than the opening for Sheeran's last album, ÷, two years ago.

To his credit, he largely refrained from giving away copies of his music with sales of merchandise, a tactic that is widely used these days to gain a higher chart position.

Close watchers of Billboard's charts, however, saw the anti-climax coming.

The first single from Sheeran's album, I Don't Care, with Bieber, opened at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

The next one, Cross Me, with Chance The Rapper And PnB Rock, went to No. 34.

Two others failed to crack the top 20 as well.