I like Ed Sheeran a lot – his music and as a guy. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
But I went to his stadium show in Sydney last week because I was intrigued. Intrigued how a single entertainer with only a guitar, on a stage all alone, could hold the attention of 80,000 people in a huge stadium. I’ve seen him indoors in small venues… but a stadium? In an era of great blockbuster spectacles?
Ed is smart with great business knowledge. He’s appeared on Sunrise a number of times and often jokes with me that he’s the biggest grossing entertainer in the world… no band, no dancers, no backing vocalists… so no salaries, no travel, no overheads. Just him, his guitars and his manager.
I think we can all learn a lot from Ed’s business strategy.
The product is world class
It’s all about the songs. They form the basis of Ed Sheeran Inc. He is productive and extremely good.
Ed reminds me of the greats like Dylan, Peter Allen, Carole King… great songwriters who wrote hits not only for themselves but also for other artists. Each issue builds its own revenue stream that can last for years.
The bond with customers is super strong
The ultimate showman with his own character and uniqueness. As far from an Elton John in terms of glitz and glamor as you can imagine… but with an authenticity and humility that is so endearing. Ed had the 80,000 strong audience in the palm of his hand.
He makes a pact with the audience to give 110% if they in turn promise to party, sing and let loose. He even challenges the reluctant boyfriend and caring dads on the show to let loose and surprise their partners and children.
Innovation is a cornerstone
Ed doesn’t need a band because he uses and manages technology that records music and lyrics during the show and plays them back during a song. He builds up the musical layers of the song, on stage, live and in full view of the audience.
It is absolutely fascinating to watch and intriguing how he does it. But it adds a richness to the sound that brings the songs to life.
Transparency builds credibility
Stung by the criticism he received during his performance at the famous Glastonbury music festival, Ed is constantly explaining the technology he uses. He was accused of playing on a backing track and lip-syncing… which is perhaps the greatest insult that can be done to an entertainer.
During the show he explains exactly how the technique works and how he rebuilds each show from scratch. Intrigue gives way to admiration for the technology and its skill.
Overall it was an incredible night on a number of levels.