Ed Sheeran Sells 2022’s Most Tickets, 3+ Million
Ed Sheeran leads Pollstar‘s year-end ranking, not in terms of gross, but in terms of ticket sales, having sold 3,047,694 tickets for his “Mathematics” world tour currently underway. There are a few remarkable facts about this number. One: it’s close to a million tickets more than chart-leader Bad Bunny sold on his “World’s Hottest Tour,” which currently stands at 2,090,785 tix, and almost double than the 1,703,614 tickets runner-up Elton John sold on his mammoth “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour (all in the reporting period Nov. 18, 2021, through Nov. 16, 2022).
Two: “Mathematics” hasn’t even left Europe. It will travel New Zealand and Australia from February through March, and hit North American shores in May. What is more, some European markets have been left out on the first leg, including Italy, Spain and the Eastern countries. “We didn’t have time to get to all the markets we wanted to this time, there’s places that we’re going to have to come back to at some point, we’re gonna go around again,” Sheeran’s manager, Stuart Camp, told Pollstar.
Three: the average ticket price of $82.45 is the lowest on this year’s top 15. It is more than $100 cheaper than Bad Bunny’s average ticket ($188.15) and almost half of Elton John’s ($160.71). “Divide’s” average ticket price in 2018 was $88.96. It remains to be seen where “Mathematics” averages out once it comes to its indefinite close, but maintaining a competitive ticket price has always been Sheeran’s and Camp’s ethos.
“For us, it’s about putting bums on seats and playing to people,” said Camp, who’s also taking into account the worldwide inflation and energy price hikes, which are both affecting people’s spending power. “We just want to put on a good show for people and not bankrupt them, the main thing is [giving] people something to come out to that’s a bit of a relief.” Sheeran’s European agent, Jon Ollier at One Fiinix Live, agreed, “It really is at the core of everything we do. The fans come first and that means value for money. I think it may be interesting in the next few years in a period of high inflation, but we will stick to our philosophy of always trying to do the best we can.”
Four: according to Camp, ticket sales either matched or were just slightly short of what they were on “Divide” (2017-2019) after the same time period. In other words, “Mathematics” is on track to match – or surpass – the biggest tour on record. Sheeran’s last outing closed at 8,880,927 tickets and a gross of nearly $775.6 million, which is certainly a motivation. “Ed loves a record, it’s something to keep him focused,” said Camp, adding, “I think it’d be nice, too, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.” Ollier said the reason he cared about records was “because they mean something to Stu and Ed, and because I like to push boundaries, but I don’t get hung up on them. I would rather we deliver on quality and consistency, and then all of that will fall into place if the stars align.”
There are a few reasons why Sheeran could repeat the extraordinary on his current run, one being the in-the-round stage, which allows for higher capacities at any given venue than the traditional end-stage configuration. Steve Tilley, Ed Sheeran’s promoter at Kilimanjaro Live, said, “We knew we were giving more people than ever the chance to try to get a ticket to see Ed because the production was in the round. The pandemic wasn’t over when we went on sale and yet the public responded in huge numbers, giving us all a massive lift. The tour was spectacular and just confirmed Ed’s ability to always confound and at times even exceed expectations. From the very first headline show I promoted with him back in 2011, Ed has always pushed the limits of what could be achieved by one man, a loop station and a guitar. This time he added extra musicians for certain songs but never lost the feel that has seen literally millions of people worldwide fall in love with his live show.”
Ollier said, “I look at end-on stadium shows now and they don’t look right. That is not to take anything away from anyone else and what they are doing, but that is the power of what the team have done here, it is just next level, and it breeds into you this feeling that, really, this is the only way to deliver a stadium show. Basically, I have been spoiled.”
Five: “Mathematics” was executed during a time of grave uncertainty, the first major tour to go out in Europe post-pandemic. “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,” said Camp. Ollier took the same line, “It is incredible how quickly we forget and adapt. It was only eight months ago, we really hadn’t yet toured anything properly since the pandemic. Looking back at the scale of what the team designed, built, and what we then planned and executed with Ed: if you asked me now I would have said, ‘You’re crazy, it is not possible.’ What everyone pulled off in that time is frankly remarkable, it was all heads down and one step at a time. You have to really step back to see just what we have achieved here. With that in mind, for me, although it is not over, this tour eclipses ‘Divide,’ no matter what the numbers say. We did it against the odds and with backs to the wall and that beats any records for me.”
And he concluded by paying tribute “to all of the people that don’t often get the plaudits, the guys who designed, built and moved this show around the world, the crew coming out of COVID, the team around Ed, the promoters, the security, the venues, the ticketing companies, the local authorities, the stewards and the masses of people I have forgotten. So many elements were just emerging from lockdowns, rubbing their eyes, and we landed this massive project on them and started asking them to do things beyond what they do in normal times. Everyone remotely attached to this tour so far, in my opinion, should be incredibly proud.”