How Did Ed Sheeran Make It?

How Did Ed Sheeran Make It?

Don’t be too proud to perform – perform anywhere, at any time, for anyone. -says Lisa Popeil

Edward “Ed” Sheeran was born in 1991 West Yorkshire, England and grew up in Suffolk, in the east of England.

Beginning with singing in his local church choir at age 4, Sheeran learned guitar at an early age and started writing songs when in secondary school (high school).


Ed Sheeran at age 11, during his first concert

His early memories include seeing Van Morrison and Damien Rice perform.

Constant Collaboration

In 2005, Sheeran recorded his first EP and went onto record another five EPs before signing with Asylum/Atlantic Records.

Constant collaboration seems to have been a key theme in Sheeran’s rise, writing and performing with a large number of writers, singers and bands.

After deciding that going to university was not going to be his path, Sheeran left home at 17 and spent the next three years traveling throughout England, playing clubs and pubs and busking on the street.

Sofa Surfing

Technically homeless during that period, Sheeran, with his large circle of friends, ‘sofa-surfed’ and sometimes had to sell CDs from his backpack to pay for train tickets and food.

Sheeran worked as a guitar tech for the UK band Nizlopi for two tours and later was asked to open for them in 2008

In 2007, Sheeran auditioned for and was accepted into the National Youth Music Theatre.

Though he has a passion for acting, his main focus became music. Grabbing a behind-the-scenes music job, Sheeran worked as a guitar tech for the UK band Nizlopi for two tours and later was asked to open for them in 2008.

Throughout the year of 2010, Sheeran built his fanbase on YouTube and SB.TV (a UK music site), piquing Elton John’s interest.

His competitive nature and ambition drew him to Los Angeles later that year, though he had no contacts there.

After playing at open mic nights all around the city, Sheeran caught the ear of Jamie Foxx at Foxx’s open mic night “The Foxxhole”.

This led to an appearance on Foxx’s Satellite radio show of the same name and an invitation to record in Foxx’s home studio and stay at his house for the duration of Sheeran’s planned visit to LA.


Both albums ‘+’ and ‘x’ are platinum in America

The Landmark Album +

Back in the UK, Sheeran performed constantly, even, at least on one occasion, playing for free for fans in the street after a venue closed.

In 2011, Sheeran released an independent EP which led to an offer from Elton John’s management team.

Sheeran’s debut album, +, (pronounced ‘plus’) which included the songs “The A Team” and “Lego House” was certified quintuple platinum in the UK in 2012 and Sheeran was nominated as “Best New Artist” at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

His second studio album “x” (pronounced “multiply”) was released in 2014 and went on to rank #1 on the UK Album Charts and the US Billboard Charts.

What This Means For You:

  1. If you want to write songs – write constantly and with everyone whom you respect.
  2. You don’t have to look like a model to be popular.
  3. Sometimes taking extreme risks can pan out.
  4. If you’re a pleasant person, you can make friends anywhere you go.
  5. Perform anywhere at any time for anyone. Don’t be too proud to perform.
  6. There’s no experience like experience. Too many people hide behind formal educations and are passed up by people out there making it happen.

-Lisa Popeil

This is the tenth and final article of this series. Missed any articles? Read last week’s: How Beyoncé made it! or read from the beginning: How Katy Perry made it!

Lisa Popeil

Lisa Popeil is one of LA’s top voice coaches. She is the creator of the ‘Daily Vocal Workout for Pop Singers’ CD download (for Male and Female) as well as the Voiceworks® Method and the Total Singer DVD, conducts cutting-edge voice research, lectures internationally and is a vocal health consultant. Lisa is a voting member of NARAS, the Grammy® organization, ASCAP, AFTRA and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.