On 2nd August, Pollstar projected that award-winning musician Ed Sheeran’s ‘Divide Tour’ will be officially breaking U2’s record at Messegelände in Hannover, Germany. The 246th show performed by Sheeran of the nearly two and half year global trek will tip Sheeran to the top.
It was forecasted that the tour’s total gross will touch $736.7 million, which surpasses U2’s record of $735.4 million as of July 30, 2011. No one expected Sheeran to achieve this record and break U2’s record in a matter of eight years.
After topping Pollstar’s 2018 Year End Top 100 Worldwide Tours chart, it seemed only a matter of time before Ed Sheeran’s “Divide Tour” would catch up to and surpass U2’s all-time record-setting “360 Tour” as it continued into 2019.
“I just found out the Divide tour is now the highest-grossing tour of all time, this is amazing! I feel very lucky to have experienced all of the wonderful countries and crowds over the past two and half years. Thank you to the fans and everyone who made it possible,” said UK-based Sheeran.
Ed Sheeran, along with a powerful international and domestic team led by manager Stuart Camp, employed a novel touring strategy which combined a high number of shows, multiple stadium and arena plays and relatively low-priced tickets.
The “Divide” tour’s final show tally is forecasted at 255 running from March 16, 2017, to Aug. 26, 2019, for a total of 893 days and the final four shows set for Aug. 23-26 in Ipswich, England, near Sheeran’s Suffolk hometown. This compared with the U2 360 Tour’s 110 shows and which ran from June 30, 2009 through July 30, 2011 for 760 days.
The report points out that the “Divide” tour’s reasonable $86.75 average ticket price was the lowest of last year’s Top Ten of Pollstar’s 2018 Year End Top 100 Worldwide Tours chart and the No. 1 tour. The tour also had no VIP ticketing and mounted an aggressive campaign against scalpers and the secondary market. The tour’s average ticket price was 14.2% lower than U2’s $101.15 average for its “360 Tour.”
The sheer volume of “Divide” shows meant the tour surpassed U2’s total attendance record earlier than the gross sales record despite having a lower average attendance of 34,541 per show, nearly half of U2’s 360’s 66,091 average.
On May 24, at Groupama Stadium in Decines-Charpieu, France, the tour topped U2’s attendance record of 7.3 million with a total attendance at 7,315,970. “Divide” total attendance is projected to finish up at 8,504,493.
“What Ed has accomplished is truly incredible,” said Stuart Camp, Sheeran’s longtime manager. “I thought we might have a shot at having the highest attendance record but not the highest grossing tour.” It also turns out that Camp is a massive fan of a certain Irish quartet.
“I don’t think there’s much of a coincidence that my favourite band growing up was U2,” continues Camp, who saw the legendary band play Wembley Stadium five times.
“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.”
With the “Divide Tour” hitting 166 venues worldwide in 43 countries through Aug. 2, Camp went on to thank his impressive global team of live industry execs. This includes CAA’s Jon Ollier, Paradigm’s Marty Diamond, MTG’s Louis Messina, Frontier Touring Company’s Michael Gudinski, FKP Scorpio’s Folkert Koopmans, Kilimanjaro’s Stuart Galbraith and Steve Tilley, Dan Ealam of DHP Family, Simon Jones at AEG as well as tour manager Mark Friend and production manager Chris Marsh.
“The amount of planning that’s gone into everything with Ed is just meticulous,” say CAA’s Jon Ollier who books Sheeran outside North America. “Every single thing that touches his fan base has to have so much thought and consideration go into it.”
“It is a pleasure and an honor to work with Ed Sheeran and Stuart and their team and I’m totally excited to part of this momentous achievement,” added Diamond, Paradigm’s global head of music who represents Sheeran in North America. “When I first saw him play a pub in Guildford however many years ago, I knew the force was with him and that his prodigious talents would take him far.”
“I’m so incredibly proud of Ed, and love him as an artist and a dear friend,” added Messina, his North American concert promoter. “Before this tour event started, we thought he was going to break this record, I never doubted him, not for a second. Ed is so driven, if he wants it, he’ll break his own record! I just adore him, Stuart and the entire team, and I am blessed to be part of his world.”
The first half of 2019 wasn’t a great year for the touring industry. The worldwide figure for the Top 100 tours stood at $2.06 billion which is a 26.8% or $752 million dip, year-on-year. The average total ticket for 2019, stood at 6,16,028 for the Top 10 global acts. This was again a decrease from the previous year’s figure of 8,39,833.
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