Ollier will take some of his biggest CAA clients with him, including Sheeran, Anne-Marie, and Calum Scott
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On the eve of Ed Sheeran's on-sale, Ollier talks post-pandemic pricing and going 100% digital
By IQ on 24 Sep 2021
Ed Sheeran’s agent Jon Ollier has spoken to IQ about the sequel to the biggest concert tour of all time.
Sheeran’s 255 show ÷ (Divide) run from 2017-19 surpassed U2’s 360° as the highest-grossing tour ever, with a gross of US$776.2 million. It also set a new record for total attendance, at 8,796,567, according to Pollstar data.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow (September 25) for the first leg of the follow-up + – = ÷ x stadium tour (pronounced |mathematics”), which kicks off in April next year.
The tour will see Sheeran play shows across the UK, Ireland, Central Europe and Scandinavia, but Ollier said breaking further records was low on the team’s list of priorities.
“Coming out of the pandemic, I think everyone would be very happy with just following it with excellence and keeping the fans happy,” the One Fiinix Live boss tells IQ.
“I think everyone would be very happy with just following [the ÷ tour] with excellence and keeping the fans happy”
“We’ve frozen the ticket prices from last time, because of everything the world’s been through, so we’re not really looking at our ambitions as much as just trying to do the best we can.
“Genuinely, the things that we are focusing on at this point in the process is getting the tickets into the hands of real fans, making sure people aren’t getting ripped off, making sure that we’re delivering excellence in everything that we do, and trying to deliver a great tour. And then everything else follows.”
The UK dates will be staged by Kilimanjaro Live, AEG Presents and FKP Scorpio, which hired longtime Sheeran co-promoter Daniel Ealam from DHP Family last year alongside Scott O’Neill.
“We had to go into arenas first on ÷ because we needed to understand the market and understand that everything was there for the taking in the way that it was, create the heat and create the demand,” explains Ollier. “But we’re at a place now where we need to satisfy the market rather than stoke the fire.”
The new tour is in support of Sheeran’s new album =, which will be released on October 29 through Asylum/Atlantic. The campaign is expected to run for three years and will include another LP before the end of 2024.
“They’ve changed up the [production] offering, so that it’s not just re-touring the old show with new songs”
“We’ll be announcing Asia, Australia, America, etc, as things roll out and I know that Ed would love to get to some new places, so I’m sure that’s on the horizon,” adds Ollier.
“We all hope that we are coming back to a market that is buoyant enough to support the level of business that will keep us running for a period of time that would allow us to get done what we usually get done. I think Ed said, ‘Right, here’s my tour, this is me now for the next three years,’ so that’s where his head’s at with it.
“And we’ll find out tomorrow when we go on sale, but we would love to be coming back to a market that feels buoyant enough for us to be able to do something like that.”
The concerts will also feature a new production set-up with Sheeran’s staging in the round, surrounded by the crowd in each stadium, potentially upping capacities. Previous tours have seen Sheeran perform solo with a loop pedal.
“They’ve changed up the offering, so there’s definitely a feeling that they’re doing something different, that it’s not just re-touring the old show with new songs,” says Ollier. “So there is definitely going to be a progression in production.”
“This time, we’ve made our ticketing 100% digital, which we think is going to be the future”
The ÷ tour was also notable for its aggressive campaign against the secondary market, and the upcoming tour will use specially developed mobile digital ticketing technology, which have safeguards in place “to ensure genuine fans are buying genuine tickets and to stop unofficial secondary ticketing sites, and unofficial ticket sellers, from being able to resell tickets at inflated prices and rip off fans”.
“This time, we’ve made our ticketing 100% digital, which we think is going to be the future,” says Ollier. “The ticketing companies have been fantastic in working with us – we’ve put quite a lot of pressure on them during a pandemic to develop their apps and the mechanisms that we need in place.
“We hope that this time [the battle against unauthorised resale sites] is going to feel a lot more like it’s all happening in the background. Last time around, it had to play out in the media because no one was listening. But people are listening now, people are aware and at the table, trying to change laws, trying to move things forward.
“There is no reason why in a world full of technology, that we can’t lean on technology a little bit more so we will have all of the failsafes and backdrops that you’d expect us to have. But it’s all going to be delivered through a digital platform, through an app, which will make sure that people enter the venue with legitimate tickets.”
Ollier began his career at Helter Skelter, moving to Free Trade Agency in 2008, when he first began working with Sheeran. He moved to CAA as a senior agent in 2015 before launching One Fiinix in November 2020, taking with him a roster of acts including Sheeran, Anne-Marie, JC Stewart, Lauv and 2Cellos.
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