Ed Sheeran’s success story
Edward Christopher Sheeran was born in 1991, in Halifax, England. Owing to his modest upbringing, with his father as an art curator and his mother as a jewelry designer, he always felt like an outsider in his “preppy, sporty, competitive private primary school.” In addition, he was being mocked for his weird-looks and odd behavior (thought to be ADD, even though not diagnosed). Although Ed Sheeran`s childhood had many frustrating facets, as he admits, that he had never succeeded at anything, he started to learn how to play the guitar and started to sing in the local church choir, finding music to be a natural source of happiness.
Once Ed reached adolescence his hardships were only intensified by anxiety and rebellion. His father, John Sheeran, the son of Irish immigrants, who had always encouraged his children to be guided academically, grew sick of his son’s behavior. He played the main role in pushing Ed to take initiative and work hard on the one thing he loved the most ‒ music. Instead of getting into trouble, Ed was driven to musical gigs by artists such as Bob Dylan, so he could gain inspiration from those who made it in the musical industry. Validating the determined efforts of his father, Ed was dreaming of becoming a pop superstar since he was 13 years old, and has never taken a day off to fulfill his dream.
Rather than turning to the entertainment industry, as what could provide knowledge and guidance to make it big, Ed started studying music with the ‘Access to Music’ organization and the National Youth Theatre. He started creating his own music while learning music with the main purpose of making enough to live off his passion. The very first dream he had been ”to make enough money from music to pay the rent and sell 100 CDs.”
While John (Ed’s father) had hopes for Sheeran to get a quality education, he decided to quit school at sixteen. He started moving from place to place until he finally took off for London in 2008. Once he arrived his life was all about searching for “gigs, attention and spending the night somewhere.” While searching to be discovered for his lyrics and melodies, he was homeless for two and a half years and it’s no secret that he spent a few nights outside Buckingham Palace. Instead of giving up and returning to Halifax, Ed continued pursuing his dream with the fortune of running across some good people: “I knew where I could get a bed at a certain time of night and I knew who I could call at any time to get a floor to sleep on. Being sociable helped.” He also set up a detailed sleeping routine that allowed him to sleep on Circle Line trains after gigs, waiting until about 5 a.m. to be able to sleep on the line until 12 p.m. before heading to another show. Although his lifestyle was extremely disturbing, it also taught him important skills like persistence and the ability to communicate with others in a natural “human” manner.
Not only did Ed Sheeran chase after his music dream, but in the meantime he auditioned for a British television series “Britannia High”, hoping to make some money. In 2009 he was accepted into the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. The point here is that while he might have gained a decent education in music, he ignored the opportunity claiming that he could teach them more about music than they could teach him, because of his actual experience with gigs and songwriting skills. It was through this refusal by academies and educational institutions that he became an easily recognizable figure in the gigging circuits of London enabling him to form relationships in hip-hop and other entertainment acts with artists.
One of the most important steps he took in his career. However, was publishing his music online. He was able to create an invaluable relationship with Example, a British rapper, musician, and songwriter through one of these videos. Example discovered Ed Sheeran through online media and offered him the chance to play as his opening act that brought his musical fan base and encouraged him to compose more songs.
Ed Sheeran and Example
Nonetheless, Sheeran was still without a music contract, despite his hard work and passion for music, so he decided to take another bold step in his career by moving to Los Angeles in 2010, without any contacts. Sheeran landed a gig at an all-black R&B open mic night in Los Angeles through his shows and musical self-promotion. It was there, as the ginger stranger, when Sheeran was noticed by the manager of Jamie Foxx who introduced him to Foxx, who, for his part, invited him to stay in his home, while letting him use his recording studio too.
Later on, Sheeran was welcomed to make an appearance on Foxx’s SiriusXM Radio Show, from which he received further public recognition. He launched his last independent EP the following year and reached No. 2 on the iTunes Chart despite it not have been advertised in any way. This attracted interest from quite a few record labels, and the same month he was signed with Atlantic Records. When the 2012 Brits Awards came around Sheeran won the Best British Male Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act of the Year awards crowning him as a key player in the British music business.
However, to get back to the point, what is fascinating is to identify what is really the key to Ed Sheeran’s success in popular music and its importance, especially in terms of his story of being a partially homeless singer-songwriter. Now that the context has been established, it is important to highlight what separates Sheeran from other popular artists in music. No, he didn’t come to Hollywood with the intention of being crafted in a certain manner, so that he can please a certain target audience in this industry, in reality, it’s a lot more than that. Having collaborated with mega-artists like Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams, The Weeknd, and Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran has quickly become the voice of the Millennial generation. He has also written hit songs for Justin Bieber, One Direction, and the X-Factor, all while being the most streamed artists online in the world. What’s interesting here is that, with his honesty and integrity, he took the music world by surprise, with songs expressing his personality and his own values. One way Ed Sheeran does so is by singing about the mundane; by using lyrics about love, alcohol, and sex, everything that is profoundly genuine and human.
Yet criticism coexists with every popular act and one of Sheeran’s biggest critics happens to be Noel Gallagher, Oasis’ lead guitarist, who claimed that Ed Sheeran has basically ruined rock and roll music. Do you ask what the reasons behind his dramatic statement might be? He claims that this current wave of singer-songwriters has never struggled with their own music, unlike all other past generations of artists. These new musicians tend to have a middle-class or upper-class privilege which has given them the resources to support their music dreams leading to the shutdown of major studios. In addition, he criticizes the millennial generation saying, “No fucker wants to be in a band anymore because it’s too much of a struggle. So we have a generation who all studied music at college, they all had media training, and the head of PR at the major label they’re signed to tell them al,l what to do. The generation I came was never afforded that luxury, which is why we were scallywags. We were coming up against the system rather than being a product of it.” His point, however convincing it might be, is totally unfounded while looking at Ed’s life story. Although his family did their best to support him, his father was also an alcoholic, and one of the key reasons Ed wanted to leave his home at the age of 16. From this time on, he was basically on his own, facing numerous challenges such as being homeless on occasion, while trying to support himself with his music. In reality, this story does not radiate luxury, it shouts hard work, dedication, and capturing opportunities. Sheeran himself never graduated from high school or a musical institution, in fact, he took up most of his skills through experience and coaching.