The incredible numbers behind Ed Sheeran's first two albums revealed

Ahead of the release of his new album ÷ Official Charts gets under the bonnet of Ed's first two albums.

The monumental success of Ed Sheeran’s first two albums, + (plus) and x (mulitply), is a rarely-seen achievement on the charts. In recent years there have been plenty of big selling debuts – Emeli Sande, Sam Smith, Leona Lewis and Rag’n’Bone Man to name a few – but many fall victim to the dreaded second album slump, a problem often caused by public fatigue towards the act combined with the press to exceed the success of what came before.

Ed is one of the lucky few to have bucked that trend. In fact, he had even greater success in the UK and across the globe with his second record. And if the initial signs of his third album ÷ – a Number 1 single for seven weeks and counting and further two Top 5 tracks - are anything to go by, things are about to get even bigger (if that's possible) for the Suffolk-born singer-songwriter.

Ahead of the record’s release on March 3, Official Charts has delved into the numbers behind Ed’s first two albums. As you can imagine, they’re pretty impressive. 

Combining all the numbers together, Ed has sold just over 5 million albums and 19.4 million singles when physical, digital and streaming equivalent sales are combined.

MORE: Ed Sheeran's complete Official UK Chart history


+ (2011)

Prior to the release of his debut collection in 2011, Ed had been putting in a hard graft for six years, during which time he released five EPs independently, toured with Just Jack and Nizlopi and even auditioned for ITV series Britannia High.

Preceded by two Top 5 singles The A Team and You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, what separated Ed from the crop of folk singer-songwriters at the time was his intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics and the occasional hip hop influence (he worked on + with R&B producer No I.D. as well as pop hitmaker Jake Gosling).

In September 2011, + debuted at Number 1 on the Official UK Albums Chart, finishing ahead of Adele's 21 that week as well as new entry from Laura Marling. Below are the record’s chart stats to date: 

Opening week sales 102,350 (also its highest sales week)
Weeks at Number 1 3, non-consecutive
Weeks in the Top 10 52
Number of singles from the album (chart peak) 6 - The A Team (3), You Need Me, I Don’t Need You (4), Lego House (5), Drunk (9), Small Bump (25), Give Me Love (18)
Total album sales 2,158,000
Album sales split Physical 64%, Downloads 31%, Streaming 5%
Total number of track downloads 3,524,000
Most downloaded track The A Team - 1,106,000
Total number of track audio streams 203,000,000
Most streamed track The A Team - 34,659,000

©2017 Official Charts Company . All rights reserved.

MORE: Ed Sheeran's Official Top 10 biggest songs revealed

x (2014)

Ed took a risk with the lead single from his second album, the Pharrell-produced Sing, a song Ed later admitted took him some convincing to release. However, the result paid off in spades, giving him his first Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart and neatly side-stepping any concerns of second album woes.

But it was the record’s third single, Thinking Out Loud, that really put Ed front and centre of the global stage, topping in the UK and most across the globe, as well as reaching Number 2 in America. In the UK, it broke a record for the longest climb from entering the Top 40 to Number 1 in history, taking 19 weeks to reach the top spot.

In July 2014, x debuted at Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart - and it was to be the start of a long reign at the top for Ed. Take a deeper look at the record’s stats below: 

Opening week sales 182,000
Highest sales week 214,000 (December 2014)
Weeks at Number 1 13, non-consecutive
Weeks in the Top 10 83 (to date)
Number of singles from the album 5 - Sing (1), Don't (8), Thinking Out Loud (1), Bloodstream (2), Photograph (15)
Total album sales 2,957,000
Album sales split Physical 64%, Downloads 25%, Streaming 11%
Total number of track downloads 4,040,000
Most downloaded track Thinking Out Loud - 1,191,000
Total number of track audio streams 682,789,000
Most streamed track Thinking Out Loud - 112,345,000

©2017 Official Charts Company . All rights reserved.