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.
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.