Stuart Camp

Stuart Camp Mark Surridge


Stuart Camp

Director, Grumpy Old Management Ltd.

Artist Manager, Ed Sheeran

Doing The Math

How do you follow up the biggest tour in history, the 8.9 million tickets selling, $775.6 million grossing, 255-date encompassing “Divide” tour by Ed Sheeran? Are such numbers even a consideration, when putting together the next one? Naturally, one wants to know if surpassing such a milestone was at all a motivation when manager Stuart Camp and Sheeran plotted “Mathematics,” which just wrapped its first UK/Euro leg, already having sold more than three million tickets, even without a couple of key markets like Spain and Italy that couldn’t be served on the first leg.

“Ed loves a record, it’s something to keep him focused. I think it’d be nice, too, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. If people just stopped buying tickets, fair enough, we’ll pack up and go home. But there’s certainly a willingness to keep at it,” Camp says. A string of 24 North American stadium dates between March and September next year have been confirmed, following the Australian and New Zealand leg, with South American dates to be announced soon. When Camp will be able to plot runs in Asia and East Europe remains to be seen, given the current political state of the world.

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The stage on Ed Sheeran’s current tour is located in the round. (Picture by Ralph Larmann)

For the first time in his career, Sheeran is performing on an in-the-round stage. His habit of performing solo means he can utilize it fully rather than being stuck to the middle with a band. The stage rotates as well, making sure that at some point during the show, he’ll have faced everybody.

Camp recalls not knowing how his client would take to the new design, “because you’re firing on a 360-degree front, and it’s a lot of running around. But he really took to it like a duck to water. I’m not entirely sure if he’ll ever go back.”

Had it been entirely up to Camp, the “Mathematics” tour might have taken place on an end-stage configuration. “We took a massive gamble on the costs for this show. It was going to cost us upwards of £30 million just to get this thing built. At one point I thought, ‘This is absolutely insane. We don’t know if anyone’s ever going to buy a ticket again. Let’s just do an end-on show it will cost us a tenth.’ But Ed rang me up after a week, saying he’d had sleepless nights. He said, ‘If this is the only time, we’re ever going to do this, we’ve got to do it,’” Camp recalls.

“Mathematics” was the first major stadium tour to go on sale in Europe since the continent shut down in March of 2020. A gamble, considering the many post-pandemic and war related obstacles a pan-European tour is facing. “That gamble, putting on a stadium tour against all odds, and what the show has become, is probably the thing I’m proudest of at the moment. Because had we chosen an end-on show, it would have still been an amazing show, but I don’t know if we’d still been fantasizing about taking it out there over the next three years. Taking that leap was nerve-wrecking, but I’m proud of the show.”

Records setters: Stuart Camp and Ed Sheeran.

Remarkably, given all the added costs of putting on a show, ticket for “Mathematics” are very similarly priced to tickets for “Divide.” “We’re always competitively priced, because that’s one of mine and Ed’s ethos. For us, it’s about putting bums on seats and playing to people,” says Camp, who is aware that the fans are equally affected by rising costs. “We’re always aware of that, also coming into this tour. We just want to put on a good show for people and not to bankrupt them. Especially now that people need something to come out to that’s a bit of a relief.”

Judging by the way he approached 2022, Camp’s business philosophy is to be bold without being reckless, considerate but not afraid. “Don’t get bogged down by the fear of it,” he says, aware that he’s in a privileged situation given the worldwide appeal of his tours. Still, “You can rail against the world all you like, but you just have to be methodical, and plan for the worst while hoping for the best and being prepared.”