Ryan Tedder Should Be Your Business Role Model: Ask Bono And Paul McCartney

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Summer means touring season in the music business and Live Nation is celebrating the very busy 2017 season by declaring May 1 National Concert Day. To mark the occasion they will hold a concert at New York’s Irving Plaza that day with Jason Alden, the Roots, Foreigner, Daughtry and more.

Of more importance to the average concertgoer is Live Nation will make more than one million tickets available for summer tours at $20 each, that is total, with no service charges. For a complete list of tours included visit http://kickofftosummer.hvnlnna.com/.

The day after the Irving Plaza promotion, One Republic, who will be headlining the Honda Civic tour this summer with Fitz And The Tantrums and James Arthur, will be performing on the Today Show to help kick off the ticket promotion.

I spoke with One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder, who is also one of music’s most prolific producers and songwriters. If you want to know how he became a star to music’s biggest artists just read on. His work ethic and approach are applicable to any business and should make him your new business coach. And he has some of the best stories in music, like the time he was in studio with Bono and the Pope called Bono.

Steve Baltin: Are you one of those people who likes being busy all the time?

Ryan Tedder: I’ve always been a workhorse since I was a kid, so the lines are blurred between what is work and what is fun for me. I love what I do. As long as I’m able to get in a little exercise and watch the occasional movie or TV show I’m pretty hardwired to just kind of go. But I’ve always been that way. When I was a kid I was doing soccer, tennis and theater all at the same time during the school year. So I was basically gone from 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM every day five days a week. That’s just how I’m wired. People need more music now than ever just from the sheer metrics of it. The population of the world right now is drastically larger than it was 15 years ago, 20 years ago. So overall consumption is up just by the factor of human population growth and everybody getting mobile phones and etc, people consume it differently now. They want more music. It’s like, “Oh cool, you dropped an album last week, that’s gonna last me ten days, then I’m gonna need more music from you.” It’s just a different time.

Baltin: That ties in with people also wanting to feel part of the experience, so talk about National Concert Day and your involvement in it.

Tedder: I got into music because I like writing songs, but I was into musical theater when I was a kid, I was into acting. And so being on stage performing, for me, is second nature. It’s something I crave, it’s a catharsis connecting with people. Every night something can go wrong, every night the audience is different, every night my jokes are a little less funny or more funny depending on the audience. It’s a human, visceral experience. We live in a time period where 80 percent of people’s communication is through a device that is like five inches by three inches that’s in their pocket. That’s how people see the world and communicate and concerts are one of the rare times when people look up from their damn phones. That’s a real experience, there’s no replacement, no amount of VR technology or augmented reality or any of that stuff is gonna change humans wanting to be in the room with other humans and watch things together. “Where The Streets Have No Name” is an incredible record. You can sit there by yourself and listen to it, it’s amazing. But when you’re surrounded by 50,000 people in a stadium it changes the temperature and so I think concerts and live theater and live music are the greatest things on earth, I don’t know anything better actually.

Baltin: What was your first concert?

Tedder: The Beach Boys, sadly without Brian Wilson. My dad took me to see the Beach Boys, this was during the “Kokomo” era. So they had their huge resurgence cause of Cocktail and that “Kokomo” song was a huge hit record. That’s the first concert I remember, which I think is a pretty cool first concert. I went to a lot of other concerts with my dad when I was a kid. I saw Michael Bolton live in an arena. I’ve seen Yanni, I’ve seen Richard Marx, all the ‘80s greats. My dad took me to anybody that came through town.

Baltin: What was the first concert of your choice?

Tedder: I would have to have been old enough to go without parental supervision, so honestly it was one of two concerts and they were both so close to each other I don’t remember which came first. It was either Bush, touring on that Sixteen Stone album, or Boyz II Men. Totally different concerts, but Boyz II Men had their heyday and they toured with Brandy and Jodeci. It was like the who’s who of mid-‘90s Top 40, pretty awesome concert. Then I saw Bush, which was my first proper rock concert.

Baltin: Does it still boggle your mind you could work with Bush or Boyz II Men?

Tedder: Yeah, it’s funny, I’m in the studio the last few months pretty much every day working on everything from established pop artists like Pink to Camila Cabello and Selena. I’ve been in and out the last few weeks with all of them and I love doing that every day but I have my bucket list of artists that I wanted to work with. Peter Gabriel was one of them and I got to check that box, I did a collaboration with him last year for a One Republic thing. And U2 was always a bucket list and my first kind of pinch myself moment was sitting in the studio listening to a bunch of songs with Bono and Edge and then Bono turning to me and saying, “Alright, tell me what’s wrong with these songs, shoot holes in them.” And I’m like, “What?” I still have my pinch me moments. I was at Abbey Road Studios yesterday in London doing some One Republic thing with Spotify and Hilton and while I’m at Abbey Road I’m texting Paul McCartney, sending him pictures of the room. He’s like, “Don’t mess up he room, leave it exactly how I left it.” And I’m sending him photos of everybody set up in the room, going, “Did I just text Paul McCartney a photo of Abbey Road? What the hell is going on?” I did a long couple of days with T Bone Burnett for the Al Gore Inconvenient Truth sequel, I wrote the theme song for that with T Bone and I was pinching myself over that. I was like, “I can’t believe I’m in the studio with T Bone Burnett, this is crazy.”

Baltin: I have interviewed everyone, but, to me, Bono is the most famous person in the world I have ever met.

Tedder: Yeah, I’d say he is probably the most famous for sure. I was in a session with him once and a phone call interrupted the session. He told the person, “No, we’re writing, we’re working on this song, can you tell the person to call me back?” Then the lady knocks again, “Bono, really, could you step out for two minutes to take the phone call, please?” He’s like, “For god’s sake, who is it?” She goes, “Oh, it’s the Pope.” And he turns and looks at me and cocks an eyebrow, he’s got a mischievous grin on his face and he goes, “I’m sorry, Ryan, duty calls. I’m gonna go save the world.” I’ve gotten to be good friends with him, I’ve toured with him, we’re opening up for them on the Joshua Tree stadium tour starting here in a couple of months. Those guys I’ve been in and out with for the last three or four years, I was with them in New York a couple of weeks ago. In my position I have to equalize as quick as possible or I can’t do my job. As quick as humanly possible I have to get over my geekiness. The only time in recent memory, for some reason, I lost my s**t with Annie Lennox. I was at Bono’s birthday party and I’m sitting there, it was the most who’s who thing, I don’t think the Oscars held a candle to this birthday party. I’m sitting there, Pharrell gets up and does “Happy,” and I had tracked down Herbie Hancock that morning and asked him if he would come. I don’t know him, I just know a guy who knows him, I said, “I want you to be my surprise birthday present for Bono, will you come and do a set?” Herbie came and tore the house down for 30 minutes. Then ASAP Rocky shows up of course, cause why not? And then David Blaine does a magic trick. Then I look across the table and I spot Annie Lennox and I had this very focused love affair with her and the Eurythmics in my pubescent musical phase. All of a sudden she’s sitting there and I’m a little drunk, I was probably a lot drunk and my wife told me, “You just made a fool out of yourself.” I go over and basically fawn over her for 30 minutes. What I thought was five minutes was me talking non-stop for 30 minutes and just losing it. “You just don’t even know how good you are, the world needs to hear you.” I was saying the dumbest stuff to her for 30 minutes. And the beauty of it is she didn’t remember cause I ended up at an Easter brunch with her last week. She showed up at a friend’s house and introduced herself to me. I ended up having a 30, 40-minute conversation with her and her daughters about music now and how to get into the music business. It was the most lovely conversation and she had no recollection she ever met me and I was not about to remind her. That was probably the only time I can think of where I just turned into mouth diarrhea and I just completely lost my marbles on Annie Lennox.

Baltin: Do you find yourself lobbying people as a fan as well as a peer?

Tedder: Oh yeah, I was lucky enough to collaborate with Stevie Wonder back in August, September and it’s the first song he’s done that he didn’t produce himself in 20 years and I didn’t know that until after the fact. We did the song, we got nominated for a Golden Globe, we lost to La La Land like everybody else. But the first thing I ever do with Stevie Wonder turns into this awesome record and I just trolled him afterwards. I was texting him and I was like, “Yo, we’re gonna get back together, we’re doing a record together.” Ed Sheeran is a good friend of mine and Ed and I want to get in and do a record. He wants to do it, that’s the good news. So, yeah, as a fan, I approach certain artists I want to work with purely as a fan. Not everybody is just calling me, I reach out to people too. I was all over Hozier, I heard “Take Me To Church” before it ever dropped and I knew the record was special. So I reached out and I said, “If I have to go to Ireland we’re gonna do a song together.” So I’m shameless with that stuff now. I don’t care, if I like you, if I like what you do, you can think I’m a hack, but I’ll definitely hit them up. More or less I did that with Peter Gabriel. I pursued him for a year. But I’m not afraid to go after somebody. McCartney, it’s taken me four years of consistently going through his manager, I know every one of his session players, I know all the guys that tour with him, I’ve known ‘em for years. It just takes time, it took three or four years and finally one day out of the blue I get a phone call. It’s fun to make some of these bucket list things happen.

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