Thanks to "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran is the first artist to crack half a billion Spotify plays on a single song. The streaming service revealed that Sheeran had reached the milestone yesterday morning, and it celebrated by releasing its Ed Sheeran Index, a measure of the British folk-pop star's popularity by country. (Denmark, Norway, and Singapore have the highest concentration of Sheeran fans worldwide, and the map is embedded below.) Spotify also shared some bonus facts highlighting Sheeran's popularity among its users. He's the second-most-streamed artist overall with 2.9 billion total plays — only Eminem has more — and a quarter of its users listen to his music at least once per month.
500 million plays is an impressive number in isolation, but it shows how much room Spotify has to grow when compared to play counts on other services. Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Pugh's "See You Again" became the tenth song to reach a billion plays on YouTube last week, and it only took 184 days to reach that level. The video for "Thinking Out Loud" was uploaded just over a year ago, and it's sitting at just over 750 million views as I write this; its parent album x was made available in full on Spotify in June 2014, meaning "Thinking Out Loud" has been accruing plays since then.
Sheeran's "chuffed to hear" about the milestone
It's not a perfect comparison: YouTube is free and almost universally available, and Spotify is a subscription service that's still adding new countries to its lineup. But it's still a useful at-a-glance measure of scale, and it's proof that Spotify has room for improvement. "Chuffed to hear 'Thinking Out Loud' has had half a billion plays on Spotify," said Sheeran in an associated press release. "Being the first artist to hit that milestone is amazing. Thanks to all the people who use this as a wedding song, soundtrack to a date, and as a way to woo someone into a Netflix-and-chill situation."