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Ed Sheeran Sets Record For Highest-Grossing Tour

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Tonight in Budapest, there is another concert from the new king of the road.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHAPE OF YOU")

ED SHEERAN: (Singing) Come on. I'm in love with your body. Every day discovering something brand new. I'm in love with the shape of you.

(CHEERING)

MARTIN: That's Ed Sheeran, for those of you who don't know. Last weekend, his Divide Tour crossed the $737 million mark. And he set a new record for the highest-grossing tour record of all time. That means Ed Sheeran is now bigger than U2 on the road.

DAVE BROOKS: In passing U2, he also passed the Rolling Stones' Bigger Bang Tour, AC/DC's Black Ice Tour, and Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Dave Brooks covers concerts for Billboard Magazine. The record Sheeran set was for the gross intake from ticket sales, which you might think means he's just charging more for tickets. Well, you'd be wrong.

BROOKS: His tickets are not, like, priced extremely high, especially compared to some of those other tours, you know. I mean, he did it through sheer numbers. Millions of people coming out to see him at huge venues across North America, Europe, Australia, South America, and Asia.

MARTIN: In setting the record, Sheeran played 246 shows in just three years, which leads to the obvious question - what is a tour anyway? How is a tour defined?

BROOKS: You know, basically represents an album cycle for Ed. Now, does he take breaks? Yes. But we consider it, at Billboard, a continuous tour.

GREENE: Brook says Sheeran has this knack for figuring out where his support was strongest and playing multiple shows there, even in parts of the world where most artists might play once if they're lucky.

BROOKS: Him and his team are able to, you know, use tools like Spotify and other kind of data tools to see where their fans are. Most previous tours had to rely on, you know, radio and record sales that weren't always as accurate, didn't give you, like, that kind of that targeted look.

GREENE: And as Billboard's Dave Brooks reminds us, Sheeran's not done yet. That big pile of money will keep growing until his tour ends later this month.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE A TEAM")

SHEERAN: (Singing) Long nights, strange men. And they say... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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