Will ÷ rule? Leading execs predict how big Ed Sheeran's Week 1 might go

Will ÷ rule? Leading execs predict how big Ed Sheeran's Week 1 might go

Ed Sheeran’s highly-anticipated new album ÷ is finally released today (March 3). Atlantic Records have plotted the campaign, retailers have been preparing for it, Team Sheeran have touring plans for 2018 on their mind… everything is in place. Now it only remains to be seen how the album performs in its first week. In the new issue of Music Week, we spoke to key figures in the industry to offer their predictions… 

“I do worry that some people might be getting a little silly on what they expect. But I’m not worried about it. Does that sound horribly conceited? There’s someone very close to me and this project who thinks it’ll do 350K [in week one] and I’d be very happy with that. That’s one of your best band’s lifetime best sales. Even the big sales are usually around 200K. So I’d be ecstatic. But really I’m thinking, What will we have sold by the end of 2018? It’s about the long game.”

Stuart Camp, Sheeran's manager (Rocket Music)

"Our expectations have been raised since not only the initial success of the singles, but the on-going success, but we’re certainly not walking around talking about each other’s ideas of what the numbers are. In terms of retail, I don’t think anybody thinks this is a one-week album, there’s a general confidence it’s going to continue for a while, so we’re comfortable with the retailers’ expectations and orders."

Mark Mitchell, UK general manager, Atlantic Records 

“Fuck knows! I don’t know… half a million? I’ll say half a million."

James Blunt

“It’ll be massive. It could be anything from 400k to 500K week one. The time is right, look at how those two tracks are holding up, they’re going nowhere, they’ve been top of the chart for weeks.”

Ken Marshall, senior marketing director, Sony Music UK

“It will be huge. I don’t know what it will do in terms of sales but I’m sure it’ll be astronomical. He deserves it all. I worked on the first Ed Sheeran campaign [at Atlantic] and I saw the hard work that he and Stuart [Camp] and everybody at Atlantic put in and he deserved all of that. He will be No.1 and do great numbers but it’s not a week one flash-in-the-pan, he’s going to continue to sell records and then, as an industry, people will start to think about how long it takes to develop things. It’s about sticking with things and developing them.”

Stacey Tang, general manager, Columbia

“This is a guy that can do no wrong. He writes his own music. He knows how to create a hit. He’s sold out three Wembley stadiums on his own just with him and a guitar. The thirst for a new album is huge.”

Scott Mills, DJ, Radio 1

“My gut [feeling] is that 400,000 is about right but it’s really hard to place it. I sense it’s going to rack it up. But he is one of those artists where you just wish him all the success.”

Tom March, co-president, Polydor

“I’m not going to predict a number because I’ll only get it wildly wrong and be a laughing stock, but anyone who thinks they’re going to have a bigger year than Ed Sheeran probably needs to have a bit of a reality check.”

Mike Williams, editor-in-chief, NME

“That’s a really difficult one, maybe a million? The two new singles did so well, didn’t they get something like 40 million streams in the first day? It’s gonna be bigger than that.”

Alan Walker, artist

“It’s going to be one of the albums of the year, undoubtedly. The first two singles off it show how popular Ed is and as a person as well. He transcends audiences and audience genres.”

Andy Roberts, group programme director, Kiss Network 

“Someone wise said never made predictions, especially about the future. I’m not going to try and give you a number but I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely huge.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI 

“Without a shadow of a doubt, Ed’s album is going to be the biggest album of 2017 and you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out. Everyone thought it was the Year Of Ed on the last album, but this could be more so – there’s no one else in the world that is a solo artist like Ed Sheeran. I never quote on sales figures, not even on my own artists. I’d put it down that it will be the longest-running No. 1 album in the last decade, that’s what I will say I think it will be.”

Miles Leonard, chairman, Parlophone

“Dropping those two singles at the same time was the smartest thing he could’ve done. It ensured he got the widest possible audience – Absolute could play one, Kiss could play one. It’s a really clever campaign to come out so early in the year with two really standout tracks. [This album] is potentially the Adele moment of 2017.”

Paul Sylvester, content director, Absolute Radio Network

“Being a fellow ginger I hope the whole globe goes ginger again for him!”

Sam Burton, manager, Boy Better Know

“First week sales? Oohhh… 550k.”

Shabs Jobanputra, founder/CEO, Relentless Records

“The album’s going to be huge. How can you not be warmed by it, it’s just brilliant to have a UK act punching so heavily, it’s very exciting for all of us. It could get to 400,000 in which case, fair play.”

Ben Mortimer, co-president, Polydor

“What did Adele do week 1? 800,000? It’s going to be there or thereabouts. He’s extraordinarily big. Max Lousada is one of the best marketeers in the world, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s similar in principle to what they did on the last album, when they owned the Top 10 on iTunes, but it’s streaming-focused now. The time of year is not on their side so it’s a big ask, but it feels really healthy.”

Jamie Oborne, founder, Dirty Hit Records/All On Red Management


Music Week's Ed Sheeran special issue is in shops now, also featuring an exclusive interview with Stuart Camp.

Story By: Music Week Staff


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