ed sheeran tops ppl’s most played charts of 2017

Music licensing company PPL has today unveiled its annual most played charts revealing the most popular artist and track played on radio, TV and in public places by businesses and organisations across the UK in 2017.  The year belonged to Ed Sheeran, with the Suffolk-raised singer-songwriter having the most played track with ‘Shape of You’, as well as being named the most played artist overall.  Warner Music UK, the parent record company to which Ed Sheeran is signed, is also celebrating, having secured a hat trick of hits with the top three most played tracks of 2017.

Peter Leathem, Chief Executive Officer at PPL said: “PPL’s most played charts act as a true barometer of the most popular music on the airwaves over the past year, reflecting not only the music played on radio and TV but also music played in public by organisations all over the country. Many congratulations to Warner Music UK, and Ed Sheeran for being named the most played artist of 2017 and having the most played track with ‘Shape of You’.  It is an astounding achievement to take both accolades – last repeated back in 2011 by Adele – and highlights the extent of Ed’s sustained popularity. We wish him all the best for his four Wembley Stadium shows later this month.”  

Ben Cook, President of Atlantic Records UK at Warner Music UK said: “It’s an amazing achievement to see two Atlantic UK artists – Ed and Clean Bandit – have been so successful on the airwaves, to claim the three most played tracks in 2017. Huge credit must go to everyone who works to create such success, especially Damian and our fantastic promo team.  At Atlantic UK, we represent a broad church of artists and genres, built up by a passion for music and a vision to be the best.  We’re totally committed to genuine artistic talent and working as a tight team to enable all our artists to develop to their full potential. Thanks to PPL for recognising Ed and Clean Bandit’s achievements of last year – it is a proud moment for the whole company.”

The Top Ten of the most played artist chart indicates the strength of the current UK music industry’s creative output with seven of the ten most played artists (70 per cent) being British.  After Ed Sheeran (number one), Little Mix (number two), last year’s number one Coldplay (number three), Calvin Harris (number four – recently named PPL’s most played Scottish artist of the 21st century) and Clean Bandit (number five) complete the all-British top five.  Maroon 5 (number six), Bruno Mars (number eight) and Katy Perry (number ten) are the only non-UK artists to feature in the top ten.

In the most played track chart, Sheeran again takes the top spot with his tropical house-inspired ‘Shape of You’.  Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson take the second most played spot with ‘Symphony’ and Sheeran makes another appearance at number three with ‘Castle on the Hill’.  Elsewhere in the top ten, Rag’n’Bone Man’s ‘Human’ comes in at number four, Shawn Mendes’ ‘There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back’ appears at number five and Rita Ora, who recently signed with PPL for her international collections, is at number eight with ‘Your Song’.

Created using PPL’s exclusive UK music usage and airplay data, the 2017 most played charts are the only music charts illustrating the popularity of tracks being played both by broadcasters and in public by businesses and organisations across the UK. The music usage and airplay 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.  In 2017, PPL licensed over 394,000 premises as well as over 580 TV channels and radio stations.

The PPL 2017 most played artist chart

  • Ed Sheeran

  • Little Mix

  • Coldplay

  • Calvin Harris

  • Clean Bandit

  • Maroon 5

  • Olly Murs

  • Bruno Mars

  • Rag'n'Bone Man

  • Katy Perry

The PPL 2017 most played track chart

  • Shape of You

    Ed Sheeran

    Asylum - Warner Music UK
  • Symphony

    Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson

    Atlantic - Warner Music UK
  • Castle on the Hill

    Ed Sheeran

    Asylum - Warner Music UK
  • Human

    Rag’n’Bone Man

    Best Laid Plans / Columbia – Sony Music Entertainment
  • There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back

    Shawn Mendes

    EMI – Universal Music
  • Chained to the Rhythm

    Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley

    Capitol – Universal Music
  • Something Just Like This

    The Chainsmokers & Coldplay

    Disruptor – Sony Music Entertainment
  • Your Song

    Rita Ora

    Atlantic – Warner Music UK
  • What About Us


    RCA – Sony Music Entertainment
  • Touch

    Little Mix

    Syco – Sony Music Entertainment

The PPL most played chart awards are presented to artists at the company’s AGM which takes place on 6 June in London.

PPL is the company that licenses music when it is broadcast or played in public and then ensures that the musicians and record companies involved get paid fairly as a result.  PPL’s public performance licensing is now carried out on PPL’s behalf by PPL PRS Ltd, the new joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music.  The PPL most played charts are based on PPL data from UK radio & TV broadcasters, as well as public performance locations such as pubs, clubs, bars, jukeboxes and shops covering the period 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017.  Both the number of plays and total played duration are used to rank the tracks in the charts.

In 2017, PPL collected £218.8 million on behalf of its performer and record company members for usage of their recorded music both in the UK and internationally.  This was up £6.7 million (3 per cent) on collections in 2016.