Ed Sheeran‘s new album of artist team-ups, “No. 6 Collaborations Project” might have more accurately been titled “No. 1 Collaborations Project” as it debuted in the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. This is his third album to reach the lead position, following “Multiply” in 2014 and “Divide” in 2017.
The Billboard charts are determined by a number of metrics. In addition to traditional record sales, total album units include online streams and individual track sales. Altogether Sheeran racked up 173,000 units, out of which 70,000 were traditional sales. That number may sound soft, but those sales came without the benefit of a concert or merchandising bundle, which is how many artists pad their debut numbers.
Songs from “No. 6” were streamed more than 121 million times, which is the biggest number for a male artist’s pop album since Sheeran’s own “Divide” two years ago, and this album doesn’t even have the benefit of a mega-hit like “Shape of You” — at least, not yet. “I Don’t Care,” his duet with Justin Bieber, debuted at number-two this past spring (under the dominant “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus), but that’s as high as he’s gotten with singles from this album to date.
So how will this album do compared to his previous releases when all is said and done? His debut album “Plus” (2011) achieved double-platinum success in the US, while “Multiply” and “Divide” both went four-times platinum. Will the all-star guests on the album add to its appeal? If not, perhaps his next album should be titled “Subtract.”
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