Three Ways Newer Artists Are Selling Lots of Tickets

Ed Sheeran. Photo courtesy of: Atlantic Records

Ed Sheeran. Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records

As an antidote to my recent complaints about the ancient nature of the concert touring business, this story suggests an alternative.

The article mentions several acts, including Ed Sheeran, who “is part of a breed of newer and lesser known acts who are able to sell out top venues, even if they aren’t pushing millions and millions of albums and singles like Eminem and Justin Timberlake, or dominating with chart-topping tracks and radio airplay like Katy Perry or Rihanna.”

These acts are playing even the biggest venues, like Madison Square Garden, and selling — or nearly selling — them out.


How? I’d pull three things out of the piece that sync up with everything I’ve seen as well:

Court and cultivate an audience. Social media makes this much easier, but it doesn’t make it happen. In descending order of likelihood of success, you can be great and cultivate an audience; you can be not necessarily great, but pretty good and cultivate an audience; you can be great and not cultivate an audience; or you can be pretty good and not cultivate an audience. Even the last one can work, but if it does, it’s just luck. Don’t count on luck! Be as great as you can, and cultivate an audience for whatever it is you’ve got.

Pick your timing. Don’t be fooled by flimsy evidence. If you can easily sell 200 tickets, you can probably sell 400 if you extend yourself. If you got a surge of new followers on Twitter, that might not mean much when it comes to selling out a bigger venue.

Moderate your pricing. That came out strongly here. Ed Sheeran may be doing well, but he wouldn’t be selling out MSG at Jay-Z prices. His most expensive seat will be $70. Think of it this way: If you double the size of the house and double the price of the ticket, you need to generate four times the revenue that you did before. Not a lot of things get four times bigger overnight.

Still, this is encouraging and useful information!

Sign Up for Emails