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Ed Sheeran the most played artist for third time in 4 years as charts show British success

- Ed Sheeran retains #1 spot for UK airplay in 2018, the third time in 4 years he has topped the list

- 9 out of 10 most played artists are British, while 7 of the top 10 songs include UK talent

- Women make up the majority of top ten most played artists for the first time ever

In 2018 Ed Sheeran was once again the most played artist in the UK, according to data from music licensing company PPL. He has held the top spot in three of the last four years - 2018, 2017 and 2015 – and since his first album was released in 2011 he has been in the top five most played artists five times. The news comes as PPL publishes its annual ‘Most Played Charts’, the only music charts that show which tracks are being played the most by broadcasters and in public by businesses and organisations across the UK. In 2018, alongside Sheeran as the most played artist, Portugal. The Man’s ‘Feel It Still’ was the most played track.

UK success
Ed Sheeran has contributed to a strong UK showing in the charts. In 2018 nine out of the ten most played artists were British, with P!nk the only non-UK artist featured. This has only happened once before, in 2012, when all ten were British. Many of these artists – Calvin Harris, Little Mix, Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne – have appeared multiple times in recent years, reflecting the current strength of UK music. Little Mix have made it in to the top five for three years in a row. Calvin Harris has been in the top ten for three years running, rising from ninth in 2016 to second in 2018. Seven of the top ten tracks also feature British talent, cementing a successful year for the UK industry.


Ladies lead the way
Jess Glynne is another UK talent that has become a mainstay of PPL’s Most Played Charts, appearing in the top ten most played tracks in four of the last five years, either as a collaborator or standalone artist. Her rise has contributed to a new milestone for the charts; 2018 was the first time that the majority of most played acts were, or featured, women, taking six out of the top ten spots.

The top ten most played tracks feature the highest number of women since 2012, with seven women making an appearance; in 2012 the number was eight. P!nk is one artist that has helped this happen; her song ‘What About Us’ made it in to the top ten for the second year in a row. This has only ever been achieved once before, by Maroon 5 and ‘Moves Like Jagger’ in 2011 and 2012.

Peter Leathem, Chief Executive Officer at PPL said: “Radio, TV and public performance usage is a significant indicator of the most played music in the country, so PPL is pleased to report a successful 2018 for home-grown UK talent. Ed Sheeran again keeps his place as most played artist, but other performers like Calvin Harris and Little Mix have also held their 2017 top five spots, helping UK music come out on top. Congratulations is also due to Portugal. The Man for their chart topping ‘Feel It Still’, and to all the other artists that made it into our top ten charts. It was a fantastic year for music and we wish all artists and rightsholders a successful 2019.”

PPL’s annual Most Played Charts are being published today, coinciding with PPL’s AGM. Also being presented at the AGM are the company’s 2018 financial results, which report a record-breaking revenue of £246.8 million and 105,192 performers and recording rightsholders paid – the first time PPL has paid over 100,000 performers and recording rightsholders in a single year.

The Charts were created using PPL’s exclusive UK music usage and airplay data. This data is supplied by licensees, including radio stations and TV channels, as well as businesses and organisations such as pubs, clubs, bars and shops all across the UK.  


PPL’s Annual Most Played Artist Charts 2018

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Calvin Harris
  3. Little Mix
  4. Rita Ora
  5. Coldplay
  6. P!nk
  7. Clean Bandit
  8. Dua Lipa
  9. George Ezra
  10. Jess Glynne


PPL’s Annual Most Played Track Chart 2018

  1. ‘Feel It Still’ – Portugal. The Man (Atlantic – Warner Music)
  2. ‘These Days (feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen)’ – Rudimental (Asylum – Warner Music)
  3. ‘For You (Fifty Shades Freed)’ – Liam Payne & Rita Ora (Capitol – Universal Music)
  4. ‘One Kiss’ – Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa (Columbia – Sony Music Entertainment)
  5. ‘Shotgun’ – George Ezra (Columbia – Sony Music Entertainment)
  6. ‘Lullaby’ – Sigala & Paloma Faith (Ministry of Sound – Sony Music Entertainment)
  7. ‘Anywhere’ – Rita Ora (Atlantic – Warner Music)
  8. ‘Flames’ – David Guetta & Sia (Parlophone – Warner Music)
  9. ‘Paradise’ – George Ezra (Columbia – Sony Music Entertainment)
  10. ‘What About Us’ – P!nk (RCA – Sony Music Entertainment)

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