How Ed Sheeran became the king of Spotify

His new ÷ album is on course to be 2017's biggest...

Ed Sheeran's back with his third album – just in case you had a long weekend break underneath a rock – and it's already made a strong case for ending up as the best-selling album of 2017 when these 12 months are out.

The mathematically-titled ÷ [pronounced "divide" rather than "obelus"] got off to a strong start on Friday, shifting 232,000 digital and physical copies in the UK alone.

It's also proving to be a massive streaming hit. With 56,727,861 Spotify streams on Friday, it made easy work of the previous one-day streaming record held by The Weeknd (his 2016 effort Starboy racked up a "mere" 29 million streams in comparison).

His single 'Shape Of You' also broke its own record for most plays of a single track in a 24-hour period on the service, with 10.12 million plays. That trumps the 7.94 million listens it received when it was initially released on January 6th.

All 16 tracks on the deluxe edition of the long-player immediately hit the Spotify Global Top 50 streaming chart, helping Sheeran beat the 'best one-day streams for an artist' record with 68.7 million streams.

He is currently the most-streamed Spotify artist, with over 45.5 million monthly listeners. 

In January, the musician told GQ that he was aiming to sell more records than Adele:

"Adele is the one person who’s sold more records than me in the past ten years.

"She’s the only person I need to sell more records than. That’s a big f***ing feat because her last album sold 20 million. But if I don’t set her as the benchmark then I’m selling myself short.

"I’m not in competition [creatively] because we all sit in our own lanes, but once the creative product is out there is a race to the finish line."

Adele's latest album, 25, shifted 300,000 copies in its first day on sale in November 2015. It went 

Ben Cook, the UK president of Atlantic Records, said:

"Ed is an artist that inspires a generation, and the release of Divide is a global event. It's great to see so many people across the world respond to this brilliant new work in such an unprecedented manner.

"As the way we release music changes, Ed continues to shape culture and how it evolves. It’s early days, but we’re really excited to see what we can achieve alongside Ed and his management on what is an outstanding landmark record."