Global trade body IFPI has some not-so-shocking news to share: pop music juggernaut Ed Sheeran was, hands down, the world’s best-selling recording artist of 2017, based on the strength of his third studio album, ÷ (Divide), and its parade of hits including the year’s top single “Shape of You.”
The organization said on Monday that Sheeran is the first IFPI Global Recording Artist of the Year to have had both the best selling album and single of the year. According to the IFPI, ÷ has achieved multi-platinum status in 36 markets, while “Shape” has gone platinum in 32. Other hit tracks off the album include “Castle on the Hill,” “Galway Girl” and “Perfect.”
In January, Nielsen Music announced that ÷ finished 2017 as the year’s most popular album in the U.S., earning 2.764 million equivalent album units, with 1.1 million of that sum coming from traditional album sales.
The Global Recording Artist of the Year honor recognizes the top artist across streaming, downloads and physical, including vinyl. Previous recipients of the relatively new award are Drake (2016), Adele (2015), Taylor Swift (2014) and One Direction (2013).
“Being crowned the biggest star in the world, with the biggest song and biggest album, is the result of years of ambition, creativity, and hard work on a global scale,” said Max Lousada, CEO of Recorded Music for Warner Music Group. “Ed is truly an incredible songwriter, vocalist and performer, whose ability to tell stories and make people feel is what stands him out from the crowd. He’s always had a totally authentic connection with his fans, something he places over everything else.”
Last year’s artist of the year, Drake, came in second place on the strength of his More Life mix tape, which broke 24-hour streaming records on both Spotify and Apple Music. In third place was Taylor Swift, who released her No. 1 album Reputation late in the year. Rounding out the top five are Kendrick Lamar, whose DAMN album closed out 2017 as the No. 2 most popular album in the U.S., and his fellow rapper Eminem.
Top 10 Global Recording Artists of 2017
1. Ed Sheeran
3. Taylor Swift
4. Kendrick Lamar
6. Bruno Mars
7. The Weeknd
8. Imagine Dragons
9. Linkin Park
10. The Chainsmokers
“This year’s Global Top 10 really is a ‘who’s who’ of popular music,” commented IFPI chief executive Frances Moore. “Each artist has a unique impact on the music industry through the talent and energy they are channelling through their work. I congratulate them all for such a successful year.”