According to Atlantic, his current single “Don’t” was premiered on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
That is of course excellent publicity for any song, if the performer is able to get it. But it only happens once (barring reruns).
But for reach and frequency, radio is the way to go when promoting new music, and Sheeran has benefitted from that. Atlantic said he rose to #7 on the CHR/Pop radio chart, and to #4 on the Hot AC chart.
He is also earning iTunes sales and garnering video views on YouTube.
RBR-TVBR observation: It’s a whole new world out there for musicians – all kinds of new ways to gain exposure – but just like it always has, radio remains a key venue for getting the music out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of the millions that can be found on YouTube if nobody knows to search for you specifically, and radio’s role remains a huge part of the path to success for many musicians and record labels.
And the labels know it – it wasn’t a radio company that provided information about Sheeran’s radio success – it was Atlantic. That should tell you something.