Ed Sheeran and Rag’n’Bone Man power British music to bumper sales year abroad

Sheeran’s Divide was the best-selling album in the world in 2017.


Ed Sheeran helped power British recorded music exports to their highest levels since the turn of the century (Victoria Jones/PA)
Ed Sheeran helped power British recorded music exports to their highest levels since the turn of the century (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ed Sheeran and Rag’n’Bone Man helped power British-recorded music exports to their highest levels since the turn of the century, the record labels’ association has said.

Overseas earnings rose by 12% in 2017 to £404million, the highest figure recorded by the BPI since it began its annual survey of record label overseas income 18 years ago.

The total generated since 2000 is now more than £5 billion.

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Ed Sheeran enjoyed global success in 2017 with his album Divide (Ben Birchall/PA)

The popularity of British music abroad means one in eight streamed, physical and downloaded albums purchased around the world in 2017 was by a UK artist.

The world’s best-selling album in nine of the past 13 years has been a by British artist, with Sheeran’s Divide taking the title in 2017.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI & Brit Awards, called on the government to secure a “strong” Brexit deal to ensure British music imports and exports are not negatively impacted by the country’s exit from the European Union.

He said: “British music is riding high once again around the world, boosted by the talent of our artists and songwriters and the innovation and investment of record labels.

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Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s debut album, Human, was a global success (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

“Our music not only enriches the lives of fans around the world, it makes a major contribution to the UK economy through overseas sales and by attracting numerous visitors to the UK.

“With Brexit approaching, music can help to showcase what is exciting about the UK as we forge new trading relationships, but only if our Government supports us by ensuring a strong Brexit deal that enables artists to tour freely, robustly protects music rights, and prevents physical music products being impeded in transit.”

The 2017 figures were fuelled by the global success of Halifax-born Sheeran, whose album, Divide, sold 6.1 million copies worldwide, the BPI said.

Other stand-out performances by British artists included Rag’n’Bone Man, whose debut LP, Human, was the fourth best-selling album in the world, ahead of Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All at number five and Harry Styles’ self-titled solo release, which also made the global top 10, according to the BPI.

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