2014 has been a great year for Ed Sheeran, as he is the most-streamed artist on Spotify with over 860 Million hits. Just last week, Sheeran won best male artist at the BBC Music Awards, and the Official Charts Company is reporting that Sheeran’s album X — which has sold over three million copies — is likely to regain the number 1 spot in time for Christmas.
The company report that, “Sheeran’s million-selling X is currently Number 1 on today’s Album Chart Update, with a lead 35,000 copies on his closest competitor, Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour. If he holds on to his current position, it will give Ed Sheeran his 11th non-consecutive week at the top.”
Sheeran sold out three nights at Wembley stadium, and played a prestigious slot on the pyramid stage at the legendary Glastonbury festival in June of 2014. As the Telegraph and others reported last week, Ed Sheeran even sang a duet with X Factor winner Ben Haenow during the show’s finale. As the Financial Times pointed out on Thursday, Sheeran is now big business. Pretty impressive for a 23-year-old who just four years ago was a 19-year-old guitar player from middle-class Suffolk, busking round London, sleeping on friends’ sofas.
Despite what is undoubtedly a very successful year for Sheeran, an article in yesterday’s Guardian music section put the success of Ed Sheeran and his contemporaries, George Ezra and Sam Smith, down to their being “inoffensive vaguely credible white solo male artists.”
The article continues, “Those three men, along with boy/man bands Take That and One Direction, are likely to have the five biggest selling albums of the year. All offer basically the same product: pleasant music for mums and daughters that sounds a bit like the past without actually referencing any social or cultural signifiers.”
The Guardian claims that 2014 was a terrible time to be a pop star.
“Album sales were at an all-time low, record labels were left millions in the red with artists they thought would be superstars, and fewer new artists broke through than at any time in the past 40 years.”
The Guardian asserts that to be successful, you have to fit a certain narrowly defined image. If you are an aspiring artist, the chances of a breakthrough are remote indeed should you not fit the mold. They also say that artists like Ed Sheeran are more than ever finding other ways to sell their music, whether it be through tie-ups with advertisers or by the digital streaming model.
As the Financial Times article points out, Ed Sheeran is one of those artists who came up the hard way, writing his own songs, busking, and playing on the small pubs and clubs circuit. His success on Spotify and his touring record suggests that Sheeran takes a holistic approach with his music, perhaps therein lies the secret of his success.
[Image: The Lad Bible]