Recently Ed Sheeran has become somewhat of a target for ‘serious’ music fans. The criticisms are varied, but on the whole are undeserved, largely based purely on his success and subsequent fan-base that has arisen from it.
To say an artist isn’t credible just because the majority of their audience is essentially Radio 1 fodder isn’t a proper argument, especially in this case given the incredible amount of talent that Sheeran has.
You can’t say he hasn’t paid his way either. For years he played small bars and clubs, slowly building up a following through live performances and online interaction with fans. There was no forced industry-led breakthrough either, merely a gradual rise to fame via small collaborations with respected, but relatively underground artists.
Indeed, despite his pop leanings nowadays, ironically Sheeran has become a great advocate of the ‘real’ side of music, and has himself spoken out on several occasions against more manufactured acts, no more so than through some of his lyrics.
If you still aren’t convinced, check out this interview he conducted with legendary US talk show host Charlie Rose back in October last year:
Here’s just a couple of quotes from it:
“I think it’s very important to be a good person nowadays in music. And I’ve found that everyone at a certain level … they’re all nice, everyone’s nice, and everyone who’s mid-tier … who’s very self-conscious about themselves and their talent – they’re the ones who get a bit nasty.”
“Live [music] separates who’s actually meant to do it from who’s not. If you can’t play an instrument or sing live you shouldn’t be a ******* musician. Get a different job.”
Over the half hour, he talks openly and eloquently about his life as a musician and more specifically about the music industry and the problems that it faces today. He doesn’t profess to have any solutions – and acknowledges that it’s very easy for someone in his current position to talk – but does recognise that there are many challenges for artists trying to breakthrough today.
Which brings us back to the naysayers. As Brits we should be celebrating Ed Sheehan and his huge success both sides of the Atlantic, not just as a pop star, but as one that knows his craft very well and has put in a huge amount of hard work and graft to get where he is. If the music industry – and indeed some critics of his – only took a pinch of his integrity, it would be much nicer place.