Ed Sheeran may be one of the world’s most popular artists 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. He draws 76.8 million listeners a month on Spotify, more than any other artist except 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 percent of its total consumption in the United States. 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, Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” falls one spot to No. 2, Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” is No. 3, and Doja Cat’s “Planet Her” is No. 4. 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, 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 Nov. 19.