The Drake vs. Ed Sheeran Streaming Battle: Advantage Sheeran

This is the anatomy of a modern hit song. Pay attention because this is how we measure success in the music industry now. The numbers we have to deal with are much, much bigger.

There’s a back-and-forth battle between Drake and Ed Sheeran when it comes to streaming supremacy on Spotify.

Until recently, Drake’s “One Dance” was certified as the most-streamed with 1.317 billion listens. Now, though, Ginger Ed’s “Shape of You” has pulled ahead, racking up 1.318 billion. The Chainsmokers “Closer,” another billion-plus streamer, is in third spot.

Ed is the most-streamed artist in the entire world on Spotify with 40 million listens every month. (For some reason, his most popular spot on the planet is Mexico City where he has 850,000 monthly listeners. Go figure.) But he’s still the second-most streamed artist of all time. His 10 billion plays are second to Drake.

So how much has Ed made?  Music Business Worldwide did some calculations. Based on the average payout of $0.005 per streamed, his stuff has generated more than $50 million for him, his publishers and his record label.

Add in the 10 million copies he’s sold of his Divide album and the revenue from all his YouTube streams and you can see that the boy is doing well.

However, “Despacito” is still in the lead for overall streams (Spotify plus everything else including YouTube) with 5.41 billion. That’s a lot, but given where music distribution is headed, it’s we’re going to hear of these records being broken over and over again.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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