ed sheeran the most played artist for third time in 4 years as charts show british success

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.”    

Ben Cook, President of Atlantic Records, part of Warner Music UK, said: “It was an amazing achievement when Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit claimed one, two and three in PPL’s ‘Most Played Tracks’ last year, and that Ed was PPL’s Most Played Artist. For the label to pull off both number one positions again – Ed in the Artist chart for a second year running, and Portugal. The Man’s ‘Feel It Still’ in the Track chart – is incredible.

“These awards are once again testament to everyone at the label’s commitment and passion to always deliver the very top results for our artists.  Plus, of course, the engagement of broadcast and other PPL members who clearly embrace our new music so fully.

“I want to acknowledge everyone at the label, especially Damian Christian and our fantastic promotions team, plus our US partners who brought us such a game changing song from Portugal. The Man.

“Thank you to PPL for all the work you do and for recognising this achievement – I know this is a very proud moment for everyone at Atlantic.”

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 Chart 2018

  • Ed Sheeran

  • Calvin Harris

  • Little Mix

  • Rita Ora

  • Coldplay

  • P!nk

  • Clean Bandit

  • Dua Lipa

  • George Ezra

  • Jess Glynne

PPL’s Annual Most Played Track Chart 2018

  • Feel It Still

    Portugal. The Man

    Atlantic – Warner Music
  • These Days (feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen)


    Asylum – Warner Music
  • For You (Fifty Shades Freed)

    Liam Payne & Rita Ora

    Capitol – Universal Music
  • One Kiss

    Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa

    Columbia – Sony Music Entertainment
  • Shotgun

    George Ezra

    Columbia – Sony Music Entertainment
  • Lullaby

    Sigala & Paloma Faith

    Ministry of Sound – Sony Music Entertainment
  • Anywhere

    Rita Ora

    Atlantic – Warner Music
  • Flames

    David Guetta & Sia

    Parlophone – Warner Music
  • Paradise

    George Ezra

    Columbia – Sony Music Entertainment
  • What About Us


    RCA – Sony Music Entertainment

For press queries please email David.Cohen@ppluk.com.