Set launches with biggest week of 2019 for a pop album by a male artist.Ed Sheeran scores his third No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as his star-studded No. 6 Collaborations Project album enters atop the tally.
The set, which was released on July 12 via Atlantic Records, bows with 173,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending July 18, according to Nielsen Music. It marks the largest week of the year for a pop album by a male artist. Of that starting sum, 70,000 were in album sales.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units are comprised of traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new July 27-dated chart (where No. 6 bows at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard's websites on July 23.
Sheeran previously led the Billboard 200 with ÷ (Divide) in 2017 and x (Multiply) in 2014.
No. 6 Collaborations Project, true to its title, features Sheeran on each track, partnering up with a galaxy of stars from across many genres of music, including Camila Cabello, Bruno Mars, Travis Scott and Chris Stapleton.
Notably, one of the tracks on the album, “Remember the Name” -- which features Eminem and 50 Cent -- includes a lyric that references topping the Billboard charts. Eminem, who has nine No. 1 Billboard 200 albums to his name, raps on the track: “I climbed the Billboard charts to the top…”
No. 6 tallies the biggest week in total units (173,000) for a pop album by a male soloist in over a year, since Shawn Mendes’ self-titled album started at No. 1 on the June 8, 2018-dated list with 182,000 units.
Overall in 2019, No. 6 nets the seventh-largest week among all albums in total units. It trails the debut frames of: Jonas Brothers’ Happiness Begins (414,000), Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next (360,000), Billie Eilish’s When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (313,000), Backstreet Boys’ DNA (234,000), BTS’ Map of the Soul: Persona(230,000) and Khalid’s Free Spirit (202,000).
No. 6’s starting sum of 173,000 units is comprised of 70,000 in album sales, 10,000 in TEA units, and 93,000 in SEA units. The latter SEA units sum translates to 121.17 million on-demand audio streams for the set’s songs during the tracking week. That’s the biggest streaming week for a pop album by a male artist since the debut of Sheeran’s last album, ÷ (Divide), when it racked up 134.58 million on-demand audio streams for its tracks (March 25, 2017-dated chart).
Notably, No. 6’s healthy sales start of 70,000 was achieved without the employment of a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer, nor the selling of countless merchandise/album bundles -- as has become familiar to many a No. 1 album. (Though, Sheeran did offer a few basic merch bundles via his official website with a No. 6-branded T-shirt, sweatshirt and hat.) No. 6’s sales were driven mostly by old-fashioned album sales through sellers like Target, Walmart, Amazon and iTunes.
At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Eilish’s former No. 1 When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is a non-mover with 60,000 equivalent album units earned (up 20%). The gain is likely spurred by interest driven courtesy of a new remix of the set’s “Bad Guy,” with Justin Bieber.
The Revenge of the Dreamers III set slips from No. 1 to No. 3 in its second week, with 55,000 units (down 53%), while Lil Nas X’s 7 is steady at No. 4 with 50,000 units (up 3%). Chris Brown’s former leader Indigo dips from No. 3 to No. 5 with 42,000 units (down 14%), while Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You is stationary at No. 6 with 33,000 units (up 2%).
A trio of former No. 1s are next: Khalid’s Free Spirit holds at No. 7 with 31,000 units (down 3%), Post Malone’s beerbongs & bentleys stands still at No. 8 with 25,000 units (up less than 1%) and Jonas Brothers’ Happiness Begins climbs 10-9 with 23,000 units (down 5%).
Closing out the top 10 is DaBaby’s Baby On Baby, as it rises 14-10 with 23,000 units (down 2%).
by Keith Caulfield
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