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Sheeran’s Divide to become highest-grossing tour ever

The mammoth ÷ tour – already the holder of several records – will tonight overtake U2's 2009–11 360° stadium tour to become the highest-grossing of all time

By IQ on 02 Aug 2019

Ed Sheeran Divide tour

image © Ed Sheeran/Instagram

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) is on course to become the highest-grossing concert tour of all time, breaking the current record, US$735.4 million, set by U2’s 360° stadium tour in July 2011.

According to Pollstar data, the Divide tour will tonight (2 August) exceed that total when it plays the Hanover Fairgrounds in northern Germany – one of the latest run of European open-airs that smashed onsale records last autumn – with the Hanover show set to push Sheeran’s total gross to $736.7m.

Total tour attendance, meanwhile, will stand at 8,504,493, from shows at 166 venues in 43 countries, compared to the 360° tour’s 7.3m.

Posting on Instagram today (2 August), Sheeran thanked “each and every one” of his fans for helping the tour become a record breaker:

 

In contrast to the ‘slow’ ticketing model popularised by Sheeran’s friend Taylor Swift on her Reputation stadium tour – using dynamic pricing to capture maximum value from tickets, often at the expense of outright sell-outs – Team Sheeran employed a touring strategy that combined a huge amount of shows, including multiple stadium and arena dates, with relatively low-priced tickets.

The tour’s final show tally is expected to be 255, compared to U2’s 110, with tickets around $15% cheaper on average ($86.75, compared to $101.15 for the 360° tour). Despite keeping ticket prices low, Sheeran still placed first on Pollstar’s 2018 top 100 tours chart – the only artist in the top ten to do so without VIP ticketing, alongside an aggressive campaign against the secondary market.

Sheeran’s team includes his manager, Stuart Camp, agents Jon Ollier (CAA) and Marty Diamond (Paradigm), tour manager Mark Friend and a roster of promoters that includes FKP Scorpio in Germany, AEG Presents, DHP Family and Kilimanjaro Live in the UK, Frontier Touring down under and Messina Touring Group in North America.

“What Ed has accomplished is truly incredible”

Ray Waddell, who oversees Pollstar owner Oak View Group’s media and conferences division, says: “They assembled an impressive team of international and domestic executive talent. In all my years covering the business, it’s amazing to see an artist like Sheeran, at the age of 28, create a new touring paradigm and achieve a touring record that may not be broken in this lifetime. And he still has a lot more to do.”

“What Ed has accomplished is truly incredible,” comments Camp. “I thought we might have a shot at having the highest attendance record but not the highest-grossing tour.”

On the significance of beating U2, Camps adds: “I don’t think there’s much of a coincidence that my favourite band growing up was U2.

“I’m not putting us at that level because they’ve obviously maintained their career for much longer, but to even be in the same ballpark as them or spoken in the same sentence with a touring act like that is very humbling.”

 


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