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Sheeran manager condemns ‘absurd’ resale prices

Ed Sheeran’s manager, Stuart Camp, has testified in court against touts selling tickets for a charity concert for almost 1,000 times above face value.

Speaking at Leeds crown court in the UK, Camp told the jury that he had decided to take action against resellers after spotting tickets for a £75-ticket charity show flogged for £7,000 on secondary ticketing site Viagogo.

No artist fee had been charged for the show, which took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall in March 2017, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

“I bet none was donated to charity,” Sheeran’s manager told the jury. “This is absurd. We just really wanted to make sure we weren’t in that situation again.”

The defendants in the trial – Peter Hunter (trading name Ticket Wiz) and David Smith (BZZ) – reportedly spent over £4 million from June 2015 to December 2017 buying tickets on primary sites using automated ticket-buying software, or bots. The pair then sold the tickets through secondary platforms for a total of £10.8m. Both men deny the charges.

Following the incident, Camp implemented a no-resale policy for tickets to all stadium dates of Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ (Divide) world tour, the highest grossing in history.

Ticket sales were limited to a small number of primary sellers, with only resales through dedicated fan-to-fan platforms permitted. Fans were informed that tickets bought through secondary platforms would not be valid and told to bring the credit or debit card used to purchase the tickets to guarantee entry.

“Our theory is that we want everybody to be able to come to a show. We’d rather put on a million more shows for a lower price,” explained Camp.

“Our theory is that we want everybody to be able to come to a show”

“I’d rather keep people happy and people saying ‘you know what, we’ll do that again some time’.”

The manager stated that Viagogo, which last month made headlines for its US$4bn purchase of fellow secondary ticketer StubHub and its reappearance on Google advertising, “ignored” the policy.

However, a Viagogo spokesperson claims the letter “wasn’t ignored”. Rather, says the spokesperson, “we disagreed with his [Camp’s] approach.”

“Our position is, and always has been, that it is unfair to restrict fans’ access to an event just because of where or how they purchased their ticket,” continues the spokesperson. “We now list restrictions clearly at the top of the web page in line with those of the venue and our customers are always protected by our ticket guarantee. However, we fundamentally believe the consumer should be allowed to sell on tickets they either no longer want or can’t use, as part of a competitive market.”

The scheme received criticism from some fans who claimed the regulations made it impossible to shift unwanted tickets.

At the time, a spokesperson from Kilimanjaro Live, who co-promoted Sheeran’s UK stadium dates, said,“Whilst we understand the frustration of someone who is unable to resell and wants to drop the price accordingly to give themselves a better chance of recouping some of their money, unfortunately this throws up more questions than answers.

“From the outset we have tried to find a way to be fair to fans, to facilitate the ethical resale of tickets and to leave as many fans as happy as possible whilst preventing the daily horror stories of them being ripped off by ticket touts profiting from the panic to get a ticket to see Ed. We have undoubtedly had a huge impact here.”

Photo: © User:Colin /Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA-4.0

 


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Sheeran wraps up Divide tour with hometown return

Ending where it all began, Ed Sheeran is performing the final concerts of his record-breaking ÷ (Divide) tour in his hometown of Ipswich, UK.

After spending 893 days on the road, performing at 166 venues in 43 countries and breaking attendance records in Iceland, Finland and South Africa, the end of Sheeran’s Divide tour – the highest grossing concert tour ever – is finally in sight.

Sheeran is closing the tour with four homecoming gigs at a specially erected 40,000-capacity arena in Chantry Park, Ipswich, from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August. The shows follow two UK tour dates in Roundhay Park, Leeds, last weekend.

After spending 893 days on the road, performing at 166 venues in 43 countries and breaking attendance records in Iceland, Finland and South Africa, the end of Sheeran’s Divide tour is in sight

According to local paper, Ipswich Star, fans have been queuing from as early as 5 a.m. to secure the best spot at today’s (23 August) show.

Fellow Suffolk-hailing act the Darkness will support Sheeran at all four shows, with Passenger warming up crowds on Friday and Saturday and Lewis Capaldi kicking things off on the other two nights.

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.

Tickets for the concerts are priced at £82.50, with only tickets for the Monday evening show remaining at press time.

 


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Sheeran’s Divide to become highest-grossing tour ever

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:

 

View this post on Instagram

Today the Divide tour broke the all time tour record set by U2. Its now the most attended and highest grossing tour of all time. Thanks so much for each and every one of you who have come to a show. 12 shows left, will never forget it x

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

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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FKP Scorpio celebrates record-breaking weekend

With twin festivals Hurricane and Southside and two open-air Ed Sheeran headline shows, last weekend was the most successful ever for German concert/festival promoter FKP Scorpio.

Scorpio, majority owned by CTS Eventim, turned over nearly €50 million from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 June – a period in which its shows recorded a total of 580,000 visits, according to the company’s, CEO Folkert Koopmans.

From Friday to Sunday, Hurricane (at the Eichenring in Scheeßel, Lower Saxony, north-west Germany) and Southside (at the Gewerbepark in Neuhausen ob Eck, in Baden-Wuerttemberg, south-west Germany) recorded footfall of 380,000 over three festival days. Around 68,000 people per day attended Hurricane, and some 60,000 Southside, the twin festivals whose headliners included Foo Fighters, the Cure, Die Toten Hosen, Mumford & Sons, Macklemore and Tame Impala.

Elsewhere, on Saturday and Sunday ‘Edmania’ came to Germany, with Sheeran playing the first two of four open-air shows to 100,000 people a day at the Hockenheimring. They were the biggest solo shows of his career to date, following last summer’s show in Hamburg, also promoted by FKP, which was attended by 80,000 people.

“We faced this tremendous challenge as a team and mastered it with flying colours”

That monster €50m figure, Koopmans tells IQ, comprises ticketing revenues plus sponsorship and F&B for the festivals, combined with ticket revenues only for for Ed Sheeran.

“Last weekend was unique to all of us in many ways,” comments Koopmans, who spoke to IQ earlier this month about how festivals are facing intense competition for audience share from one-day headline shows.

“The logistical and personnel effort that comes with three parallel events of this size and a total of more than 580,000 guests not only triples – it increases exponentially. In total, more than 10,000 workers from all over Germany were directly or indirectly involved.

“With a total turnover close to 50 million euros, this weekend had undoubtedly the highest turnover in the history of FKP Scorpio. Even more important to me is the fact that we have faced this tremendous challenge as a team and mastered it with flying colours.”

 


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“I could see he was a star in the making”: Chris Marsh is the Gaffer 2018

When a small PA company in Wiltshire, UK, took on its latest crew member in 1997, neither party could have imagined the career trajectory that would follow.

From helping tribute acts with their sound requirements in tiny clubs and pubs dotted around the rural west country of England, Chris Marsh has scaled the production crew ladder like a bionic rigger, learning a number of specialist tech roles along the road before finding his way to the exalted level of production manager for, arguably, the biggest star on the planet. “I know that Chris took a significant pay cut to come and work with Ed,” reveals Sheeran’s agent, Jon Ollier at CAA. “But Chris has been integral to everything that Ed does live: even when he started out working with Ed in 2011, he was vastly experienced, so it’s great that we’ve all been able to grow together and achieve everything that we have so far.”

Sheeran ended his 2018 touring commitments in early November when his sold-out North American leg came to an end at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. That gig was his 94th stadium show of 2018, including 25 in North America, 47 in Europe, 12 in Australia, six New Zealand dates and four across Japan and the Philippines. Marsh is already hard at work on the next leg of the tour, which begins in February by dominating the ‘souths’: five shows in South America, four in South Africa, one date in South Korea, and then two in Southeast Asia. From there, the ÷ tour returns to Europe for a mix of 35 outdoor dates – the majority in stadia, but with a couple of festival headline slots and some outdoor greenfield sites thrown in to keep Marsh and his crew on their toes.

Not that those different venue settings keep this year’s Gaffer Award recipient awake at night. “One of our biggest achievements on this tour was when we wrapped up the European shows in Poland, loaded out onto trucks and loaded into two 747s, then played the same show in Los Angeles less than a week later,” says Marsh. “That flexibility is one of the joys of working with a solo act, I guess: we could not have cut it any finer between the Rose Bowl and the shows in Warsaw.”

“Chris has been integral to everything that Ed does live”

Growing up
Born in Southampton, England, and raised in nearby Romsey, Marsh was heavily into music at school and followed his father into the church choir. “I was a chorister at Romsey Abbey from an early age, and I also learned piano and played French horn in the school orchestra, too,” he says. That love of music saw him join a number of bands in his younger days and take on double O-levels in music at South Downs College, where any ambitions of becoming a rock star quickly evaporated. “I discovered at college that I was among a bunch of phenomenal musicians and that I wasn’t good enough. But I started to love the technology side of things and could see another avenue into working in the music business.”

Marsh found work at a small PA company in Salisbury called Midas Sound & Lighting, where he found himself loading and unloading gear for tribute bands and other local acts, while in the summer he would be involved in supplying equipment to small festivals.

Around the same time, in 1999, Marsh met Lars Brogaard and the duo started working together to build an audio subrental company that would eventually become Major Tom Ltd. “It meant that I stopped being on the road so much, but it was great to work with Lars, and we eventually also launched Colonel Tom for the video side of the business and, because of that, I started doing more than just sound. “Lars has been something of a mentor to me – he’s been there from very early on in my career and has put my name forward for some great jobs, so I’m eternally grateful to him and I’m delighted to have him in my corner.”

That feeling is definitely mutual. Brogaard says, “Chris started working with me over 20 years ago when he was just 18 or 19 and he has done fantastic – I’m very proud of him and view him like a son.

“I can remember him telling me that he’d met this young artist that he thought was really special and that we should get involved, so we helped out with equipment on that first Ed Sheeran tour and we’ve been with him ever since.

“Chris is a great production manager and sound engineer and he could get a job with anyone at any time he wants, so I’m beyond happy and grateful that he’s remained as my partner at Major Tom.”

“He’s unflappable in all manner of situations”

Everything has changed
Enjoying his career as a freelance sound engineer, one of Marsh’s early gigs saw him working on a Michael Ball tour, where he witnessed a difficult relationship between the production manager and the artist. “Phil Bowdery was managing Michael and during a conversation with him I just happened to mention that it shouldn’t be that hard to make the artist happy. That’s when Phil suggested I step up to the production manager role, and in 2003, I did my first UK tour around 2,000- to 3,000-seat theatres.”

As president of touring international for Live Nation, Bowdery has nothing but praise for Marsh. “Whenever I want him to work for us, he’s too busy with Ed Sheeran. He’s unflappable in all manner of situations and when you work with Chris, it’s service with a smile.”

Recalling how they first met, Bowdery adds, “Chris was running everything for Lars Brogaard at Major Tom, dealing with the logistics for multiple tours, and it was fairly evident he was a very together guy, as well as a bloody nice bloke.

“He joined us on a Michael Ball tour and did a brilliant job as sound engineer, so I wasn’t surporised that he was also able to take on the role of production manager. I could see he was a star in the making – and now he’s mastered stadium shows. I like Chris a lot – I’ve got all the time in the world for him – and the Gaffer award is well deserved.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 81, or subscribe to the magazine here

 


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Top 10 tours of 2018 all gross over $100m in record year

The ten biggest touring artists of 2018 brought in a collective US$2bn+, with all grossing more US$100 million each, in a year packed with “remarkable box-office feats”, according to Pollstar’s traditional end-of-year ticket sales chart.

As at mid-year and in Q3, and on the back of a raft of near-instant sell-outs for the 12th leg of his unstoppable ÷ tour, Ed Sheeran was by far the biggest tour of the year, jumping from the eighth spot in 2017 to claim No 1 in 2018. With a gross of $432.4m from 94 shows, the Sheeran tour is the highest gross ever recorded for an artist in a single year, according to the top 100 worldwide tours chart.

According to Pollstar, the ÷ tour is the first to top $400m, and one of only two to gross more than $300m, in a single year  – after U2 in 2017.

Taylor Swift, whose Reputation stadium tour recently became the highest-grossing in US history, is second, taking $345.1m from fewer dates, but with a higher average ticket price and higher gross per show.

Rounding out the top ten, with tour grosses in US$, are:

Live Nation was the top-selling promoter to the tune of nearly 40 million tickets – 49.6m compared to AEG Presents’ 11.6m – with AEG-owned Messina Touring Group third with 5.3m.

In total, the top 100 worldwide tours grossed $5.6bn, with 59.8m tickets sold.

According to PwC figures, the value of of the global live music business is set to continue growing through the rest of the decade and the start of the next, reaching $30bn by 2022.

 


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Bridging the Divide: Sheeran on top again in Q3

As expected, the touring juggernaut that is Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) continues to be the preeminent tour of 2018, having shifted more than 4.3 million tickets since the start of the year.

That’s according to Pollstar’s third-quarter top 100 tours chart, which sees Sheeran having sold nearly 2m more tickets than his nearest rival, Taylor Swift (Reputation), and close to 2.5m more than third-placed Beyoncé and Jay-Z (OTR II).

Sheeran, who was similarly on top in Q2, smashed several records across Europe last week after going on sale 12th leg of the ÷ tour, which will see him play a run of European festivals, parks, stadia and other open-air venues from May to August 2019.

“We are selling out everywhere and it’s only the beginning”

“We are humbled by the continuing success of the tour,” Sheeran’s manager, Stuart Camp, tells Pollstar. “We always set out to get to play to as many people – in as many parts of the world – that wanted to see us. The run has been a testament to Ed’s broad appeal and the hard work of all our partners worldwide – be it the promoters, labels and, of course, our touring crew who are second to none.”

Louis Messina, CEO of Sheeran’s North American promoter, Messina Touring Group, adds: “Ed just amazes me night after night. For me seeing him grow into one of the biggest stars in the world is heartwarming.

“We are selling out everywhere and it’s only the beginning. I’m honoured to work for Ed.”

 


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Edmania: Sheeran breaks records across Europe with new onsales

Not content with having almost certainly the biggest tour of this year, the Ed Sheeran touring colossus is extending its record-breaking ÷ run deeper into 2019, having already smashed touring records across Europe ahead of a string of open-air dates next summer.

The 12th leg of the ÷ (pronounced ‘Divide’) tour sees Sheeran play a run of European festivals, parks, stadia and other open-air venues, touching down at Groupama Stadium (59,186-cap.) in Lyons on 24 May 2019 and wrapping up with three nights in Chantry Park in Ipswich, in Sheeran’s home county of Suffolk, on 23–25 August.

The tour has done gangbuster business since starting back in March 2017, with the British singer-songwriter’s lasting popularity – dubbed ‘Edmania’ by European promoter FKP Scorpio – driving huge numbers across all legs, including 1m tickets sold in Australasia (leg seven), 750,000 tickets across FKP shows in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Poland (leg nine) and, currently, a US$300m-and-counting-grossing US stadium run (leg ten).

The tour was also the highest grossing in the world in the first half of 2018, shifting more than 2.6m tickets – more than double that of runner-up Disney on Ice.

Tickets for leg 12 went on sale last week, and promoters across Europe are already reporting a massive response to the new run of shows, believed to be the last of the tour.

“‘Edmania’ has no end,” enthuses Germany’s FKP Scorpio, which has in five days sold more than 200,000 tickets for just four shows: Hockenheimring on 22 and 23 June and Hanover Fairground on 2 and 3 August.

9% – or nearly one in ten – Icelanders are going to the Reykjavik show

The company is additionally co-promoting two dates in Prague (Letňany airport, 7 and 8 July), one in Riga (Lucavsala Park, 12 July) and two in Helsinki (Malmi airport, 23 and 24 July), in partnership with Charmenko, L Tips Agency and Fullsteam, respectively, all of which it says are seeing “great local demand” for tickets.

The fan response has been similarly overwhelming in France, where promoter Live Nation added a second Groupama Stadium date after the first sold out in minutes on Thursday morning, and at home, where Kilimanjaro Live and DHP Family added a third Ipswich show after the 23 and 24 August dates sold out in under half an hour.

In Romania, 25,000 tickets to Sheeran’s 3 July show at Bucharest’s National Arena stadium sold in record time; in Spain the figure is 70,000 in three hours, for two Live Nation-promoted shows in Barcelona and Madrid on 7 and 11 June, respectively.

In Austria, meanwhile, the onsale for a 28 June Wörthersee Stadium (30,000-cap.) set a new record by selling out in just three minutes; a second date announced for the following night took half an hour. Sheeran has now sold 180,000 tickets in Austria in the last 12 months alone, following two huge concerts at Happel Stadium in Vienna last month, reports Österreich.

But perhaps nowhere more is Sheeran’s status as the world’s premier live draw more apparent than in tiny Iceland, where promoters Sena Live and AEG Presents sold a record-breaking 30,000+ tickets in the space of two hours for his 10 August date at Laugardalsvöllur in Reykjavik. At last count, the population of Iceland was 334,252, meaning around 9% – or nearly one in ten – Icelanders are going to the show. If the same was true in, say, the US, you’d need a stadium that could fit 29m people…

 


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UK stadium shows face travel disruption

Ed Sheeran fans have been advised to make alternative travel arrangements for the singer’s four-night run in Cardiff, as engineering work means there will be no direct trains to or from London.

The million-selling second UK leg (and the ninth in total) of the ÷ world tour wraps up at Principality Stadium on Sunday, with Sheeran becoming the first artist to play four consecutive shows at the venue. The 60,000 people expected to attend each night are facing significant travel disruption, with the closure of the Severn Tunnel leading to the suspension of the service to London Paddington.

Services from London before the show will additionally not call at Bristol and Cardiff, and trains coming from England’s south coast will terminate at Bristol Parkway, where a rail replacement bus service will take passengers to Newport for onward trains to Cardiff, reports the BBC. Additionally, last trains to Birmingham, Portsmouth and Aberdare will likely leave before the concerts finish at 22.30.

After the gig, trains to Newport and west Wales will run as normal, with replacement buses taking passengers to Bristol.

In a statement provided to IQ, a Network Rail spokesperson says delaying the electrification works in order to keep the tunnel open would have meant a “significant cost” for taxpayers.

“Rebooking the work for another time would mean a significant cost to the taxpayer”

“The Severn Tunnel and Patchway tunnels in Bristol will be closed for three weeks so engineers can deliver essential modernisation and electrification work on the mainline in Bristol and south Wales,” according to the organisation, which operates the rail infrastructure in Great Britain.

“This work requires engineers and specialist equipment and has been planned well in advance, and rebooking the work for another time would mean a significant cost to the taxpayer. Additional capacity is being provided where possible during work, and passengers have been advised to plan their journey in advance. ”

Sheeran’s is the second major UK stadium tour to face travel disruption this week, after thousands of Rolling Stones fans were left stranded at Twickenham Stadium on Tuesday night after a “series of incidents” led to the cancellation of all trains to central London from Twickenham station.

As with the rest of the ÷ UK tour, Cardiff concertgoers with tickets bought from unauthorised resale sites such as Viagogo will be turned away at the door, with fans given the option to buy new tickets at face value and claim back their money via Viagogo or their credit card company.

“Although it’s inconvenient for customers, we are helping them achieve refunds on transactions where they’ve just been ripped off,” said Stuart Galbraith, of tour promoter Kilimanjaro Live, last month.

 


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Hefty fine for man who flew drone over Sheeran show

A man has been fined A$1,050 (US$805) for flying a drone over Ed Sheeran’s show in Brisbane on 21 March.

Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ world tour touched down in Australia on 1 March, visiting Brisbane’s 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium on the 20th and 21st.

According to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which issued the fine for the “hazardous operation of a drone”, the unmanned aircraft was flown at night, in a populous area, within 30 metres of people and beyond line of sight – all prohibited under Australian drone safety regulations.

Queensland police identified the Brisbane-based man flying the drone and provided CASA with evidence of the flight, according to the aviation authority.

Will Robley of Quantum Aviation spoke at ILMC in March about the anti-drone technology used by the company to prevent use of the aircraft at events, against a background of drones now being used to carry weapons or even being used as weapons themselves. “Your event security should consider the threat from above,” he warned.

 


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