Ed Sheeran’s Christmas lesson in repurposing content

In amongst the Christmas advertisements (our personal favourite from Germany here) and monsters under the bed, December also features the inevitable rush of music releases for the all-too-transient “Christmas number one”.

Many peg the George Michael-led Wham! classic Last Christmas, first released on December 3, 1984, for a resurgent and reminiscent come-back posthumously. Odds are even available for it and the overwhelming support appeals to our innate sense of nostalgia.

However it’s another Brit who’s doing his (and his label’s) best to make it to the coveted top. Ed Sheeran’s Perfect, part of his hit album ÷ (Divide) which was released on March 3, 3017, is the track being pushed every which way possible.

It was announced by Billboard that Perfect was to be released as a single on August 21 and the track was released to top 40 radio on September 26. At the time of this blog, it had reached number one in 23 countries according to Wikipedia (yes, we are referencing Wikipedia).

Drip-feeding content and remaining relevant is something the music industry is the best at, since the The Beatles when the album-tour-album-tour-repeat cycles arguably became humdrum best practice.

The official music video for Perfect was released on YouTube on November 9, 44 days after the song release, and features popular young American actress Zoey Deutch and Sheeran on a romantic winter skiing holiday. He serenades her in the snow and it’s a not-so-subtle nod to the impending Christmas holiday season.

Back to the Christmas number one and you could be forgiven for ignoring the barrage of duets now pouring out of the same song. We have it on good authority, our resident number one music chart aficionado and Now That’s What I Call Music album collector, that sales of any duet or re-release of a song also count towards the overall tally for musical gold.

In November, there was an acoustic version, two remixes by Mike Perry and Robin Schulz and then…

The “Perfect Duet” with music legend Beyoncé was released on December 1. But it’s okay, if Queen Bee isn’t to your taste, you could listen to the operatic version “Perfect Symphony” with Andrea Bocelli that was released Friday – on December 15.

It’s the perfect barrage of Sheeranness. This coming from the artist whose song Thinking Out Loud has become the wedding song of choice for couples worldwide. Love it or hate it, the pop industry’s ability to hook the masses with an earworm and then beat you with it relentlessly is a master class in content promotion, repurposing and getting the most from your talent.

The lesson is that just because you’ve done something once, you shouldn’t always abandon it and move onto the next thing. There’s millage in good content if you take care not to overdo it.

Is Sheeran’s quest to Christmas stardom desperate or clever? We’ll let you decide.


Music streaming and purchase numbers towards the Christmas number one count up until 21 December.