Team Ed Sheeran is enjoying some well-earned time off, after the singer-songwriter’s record-smashing ÷ Tour finally wrapped in Sheeran’s hometown of Ipswich on Monday.
But after breaking the all-time records for attendance and concert grosses, and with consumption of the ÷ album at well over 17 million units worldwide, according to Warner Music, where can Sheeran possibly go next?
His manager, Grumpy Old Management founder Stuart Camp, has already told us about the possibility of his client recording the next James Bond theme, or even performing in space. And, as Music Week revealed last month, Grumpy will now consider taking on other clients.
But sooner or later, Sheeran will come back – the question is when, and how?
“The irony is, he’ll go straight back into recording mode relatively soon, whatever that’s going to manifest itself into,” Camp told Music Week. “He won’t sit still for long. He’s not the holiday sort.”
In fact, Camp said Sheeran had already started recording, although he does not expect there to be another album proper until “spring-summer 2021 at the earliest”.
“There’s certainly music, but that doesn’t mean it’s coming anytime soon,” said Camp. “It does drive me mad. He stockpiles so many songs and he’ll say, ‘I’ve already done albums four and five’. And I say, ‘No you haven’t, because you know it will change right up until we release it’. You can’t just stockpile it in advance and say, ‘Yeah, done it’. But that’s the way he works mentally and his attitude. So he’s already recording and he’ll carry on, do a few days here and there for the next 12 months, then ramp it up a bit closer to the time. But he won’t sit around being idle.”
After the success of the No.6 Collaborations Project, designed as a stopgap between ‘proper’ records, Camp – who stars on the cover of this week’s ÷ Tour special edition of Music Week – admits the pressure will be on when Sheeran does release another album.
“Winning is one thing, coming back and doing it again [is another],” said Camp, Music Week’s Manager Of The Year in 2018. “It still doesn’t feel like there’s anyone on our scale competition-wise on the live side, which is obviously the focus of our business. It’s all about what we do next that’s different and maintaining where we’re at.”
Camp said that Sheeran is already thinking about how he can top his own touring record next time out (“He was like, ‘How can we beat this attendance record next time?’ It was the first thing we’d asked me!). At the final Ipswich show, Sheeran hinted that the gig “might be the last loop pedal show”, but Camp said no decisions had been made as yet.
“There are talks about what we do next, whether there is a band involved or we do it in the round,” he said. “We’ve already started to have ideas on that, but the danger when you’ve been on a tour like this for two-and-a-half years is that everything’s a knee-jerk reaction.
“The simple reaction would be, ‘We’ll have flying dragons and a 50-piece orchestra next time’, but let’s just calm down for a minute and talk again at the end of the year, once the dust has settled and you’re not changing for change’s sake. But we might present ourselves differently next time.”
After Sheeran’s role as himself in the hit film Yesterday, Camp said more acting projects could be on the horizon, and Sheeran will continue his burgeoning songwriting career, even while taking a break from the road. But music is likely to remain the superstar’s priority for some time yet.
“Things may change,” said Camp. “He could have a young family relatively soon. He really enjoys and does a lot of other songwriting, so there’s another string to his bow that doesn’t take us around the world. But there are another couple of big, big tours and projects in him yet.”
* To read our full ÷ Tour special, see the current print edition of Music Week, available now. For the Stuart Camp cover story, click here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.