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Ed Sheeran aids British music to continued popularity worldwide

By | Published on Friday 8 June 2018

Ed Sheeran

Following the shock revelation from collecting society PPL earlier this week that Ed Sheeran was popular in 2017, the BPI has now confirmed it, just to put all your doubters in your place. According to the record industry trade body, he helped UK artists to account for almost 13% of all music consumption worldwide last year.

Sheeran’s ‘Divide’ album was the most purchased and streamed British album of 2017 worldwide – its predecessor ‘Multiply’ coming in at number six. Other popular acts included Rag N Bone Man, Sam Smith, Harry Styles, The Beatles and Liam Gallagher.

Last year, one in eight of all albums purchased around the world was by a British artist. So that’s 12.9% of purchases. That was up from 12.5% in 2016, although still down from the heady days of Adele’s last album in 2015, which boosted consumption of British albums around the world that year to 17.1%. Aside from that Adele blip though, this is British music’s highest market share since 2011. The value of all the sales and streams last year, reckons the BPI, was worth $2.2 billion.

British music is most popular in Europe, where the market share of UK acts is highest, at 22.1%. This is almost double that of the second biggest market for UK tunes, that being the US, where market share is 11.9%.

“British artists and their music continue to inspire fans all around the world”, says BPI boss Geoff Taylor. “This country has innovative, risk-taking labels that invest heavily in the best of British talent, promoting home-grown artists to global audiences on fast-growing streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music”.

He continues: “In 2017, we maintained our exceptional share of the world’s listening, consolidating our position as the second most successful music nation on earth, exporting more music than any country after the US. As Britain begins to chart its new course in international trade, it’s not idle hyperbole to claim that music has truly become Britain’s international calling card”.

Talking up UK music’s role in promoting the country worldwide is more important than ever, of course. Because while it’s always nice to know you’re popular, stats of this kind are also increasingly used as pleading cry for UK politicians to make life easier for British music to maintain its standing internationally.

The politicians generally take this on board, enjoying standing up and waffling on about what a great job our musicians do for us and our economy. But as the government meanders into Brexit disaster, concern that recorded and live music may take a substantial financial hit are growing. Still, on the bright side, when all of our imported food is arriving in the country rotten due to being held up at the border, we probably won’t be quite so worried about how much money Ed Sheeran is making.

Anyway, here are the top ten best selling British albums of 2017 around the world:

1. Ed Sheeran – Divide
2. Rag N Bone Man – Human
3. Sam Smith – The Thrill Of It All
4. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
5. Depeche Mode – Spirit
6. Ed Sheeran – Multiply
7. The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
8. Gorillaz – Humanz
9. Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want?
10. Liam Gallagher – As You Were



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