OneRepublic, Papp László Budapest Sportaréna, May 13

Life feels like a million bucks, and more, for Ryan Tedder

Ryan Tedder, frontman of American multi-billion-streams band OneRepublic, says he “never got into music for the money” when they formed in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2002. Nonetheless, he’s done pretty well, selling a majority stake of his music catalogue to the tune of around $200 million in 2021. Hear the fellows play at Papp László Budapest Sportaréna on May 13.

The 42-year-old Tedder is the main man in OneRepublic, being the lead singer and a multi-instrumentalist, alongside guitarists Zach Filkins and Drew Brown, bassist and cellist Brent Kutzle, drummer Eddie Fisher and keyboardist Brian Willett. His wealth also comes from a string of credits ranging from Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift to Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande.

Tedder is a three-time Grammy winner and as a songwriter/producer has sold more than 420 million records internationally, writing several number one hits including “Counting Stars” and “Apologize” with OneRepublic, “Sucker” sung by Jonas Brothers, “Rumor Has It” sung by Adele and “Burn” sung by Ellie Goulding.

Starting out, he caught the attention of hip hop producer Timbaland after Ryan, a  former waiter and shop assistant, then 21, won a singer-songwriter competition in which he was selected as one of five finalists to perform on a one-hour special on MTV.

Since then, other big hits he has written include Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” and Beyoncé’s “Halo”. Tedder has also notched production credits with the likes of U2, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry, establishing him as someone who has shaped contemporary music, and according to some people he is perhaps the most revered songwriter in pop.

Tedder says the first time he made money out of music was in 2003. “I was doing mostly hip-hop when I started in the early 2000s and I’d made a little money from music here and there, like this guy would fly me to Toronto to produce for his kid and he’d pay me four or five grand. It was weird, though, that guy would give me envelopes of cash, and it was okay, but the first real cheque I got was for song-writing.

“It was a month after I moved to LA and I got a cheque for a song that I wrote on a Bubba Sparks album called “Deliverance”. I co-wrote it and I’m singing on the song. I got $7500 because it ended up in the movie ‘Without a Paddle’ and that licensing paid for my rent for half a year.”

He says the first time he received any really amazing advice was from his late grandfather. “I remember sitting down with him, he was probably 82 and I was 14. He said, ‘I have one piece of advice for you. You need to find something that you would do 40 hours a week for free. That is what you make your job’. It’s phenomenal advice, no matter what anybody says, or what your life circumstances.”

A second piece of advice had to do with when you do make money. “It was from Michael Jackson’s old manager, who only managed him for about three or four years during the early 1880s, he’s an attorney… I was 20. I was visiting LA and I was pursuing music at this point, I’d won a record deal on MTV and was going to move to the city.

“I walk into his house by the Beverly Hills Hotel, it’s my first time ever being in a mansion, so I’m going gaga, and he says to me, ‘Want a house like this one day?’. I said, ‘Oh, man, who wouldn’t?’. He goes, ‘Every dollar you make in music, or whatever it is that you’re doing, you need to put it into real estate. Buy apartment buildings that you would want to live in or offices that you’d want to work in, in cities that you’d want to be. It’s that simple’.”

OneRepublic first achieved commercial success on Myspace as an unsigned act. In late 2002, after the band played shows throughout the Los Angeles area, a number of record labels showed interest, until they ultimately signed with Velvet Hammer, part of Columbia Records.

They made their first album, “Dreaming Out Loud”, with producer Greg Wells in mid-2005 at his studio, Rocket Carousel, in Culver City, California. The album was originally scheduled for release in mid-2006 but the group was dropped by Columbia two months before its release.

The lead single of that album, “Apologize”, was released on April 30, 2006, on Myspace and received some recognition there, becoming number one on the Myspace charts. The album finally came out in 2007, with “Apologize”, remixed by Timbaland, becoming a big international success, reaching number one in 16 countries and earning them a Grammy Award nomination.

The second single, “Stop and Stare”, mirrored its predecessor’s success. The album was later certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The band’s second album, “Waking Up” (2009), produced the singles “All the Right Moves”, “Secrets”, “Marchin On” and “Good Life”, with the latter reaching the top ten of the US Billboard Hot 100.

OneRepublic’s third album, “Native” (2013), became their first top ten album on the Billboard 200 and highest charting album to date, reaching number four. The lead single, “If I Lose Myself”, made the top ten in several countries, while another single from “Native”, “Counting Stars”, became the band’s most successful single in recent years, going top five in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, the US and the UK.

This marks their highest charting single in the UK to date. It peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, matching their highest peak of “Apologize” in 2007. On October 7, 2016, OneRepublic released “Oh My My”, their fourth studio album, which featured a number of collaborators, including Cassius, Peter Gabriel and Santigold.

Preceded by the singles “Wherever I Go” and “Kids”, it was recognised as a change in their sound from the previous albums by both critics and the band itself. In 2017 the band released the singles “No Vacancy”, “Truth to Power”, “Stranger Things” with Kygo and “Rich Love” with Seeb. To date, the band has sold some 16 million records worldwide.

Beyond songwriting and production, Tedder’s non-musical interests extend to his hemp-extract beverage brand, Mad Tasty, which he launched in 2018, and he says he owns “a ton of commercial real estate, like office buildings”. He is an investor in dozens of companies ranging from tech to consumer products, and he recently launched his own non-fungible tokens (NFT) line in collaboration with street artist Bustart. NFTs are digital collectables stored on a blockchain. When you buy an NFT there is a permanent record of your ownership and digital evidence that a particular artist created the work.

He has been a judge on NBC’s reality TV show “Songland”, and in summer 2021 OneRepublic released their fifth album, “Human”, the band’s first since 2016, after a slate of pandemic-related pushbacks.

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