Taylor’s Towering Year

Introduction

It’s good to be Taylor Swift.

The 33-year-old singer is a megastar like no other.

Seven months since the first show in Glendale, Arizona, her Eras Tour has done a projected $2 billion in ticket sales and generated an additional $6.3 billion in direct consumer spending.

Figures that are more in line with the yearly GDP of small nations than a music tour.

What’s remarkable is that The Eras Tour has lined up every demographic and knocked them down like bowling pins.

It’s almost unfathomable to think that you don’t know at least someone who went.

She’s always had teenage girls and moms. But now she has the dads, boyfriends, billionaire tech CEOs, and even NFL linemen singing karma is my boyfriend as confetti falls and fireworks shoot into the night sky of whatever city-turned-Taylorpalooza she’s touring in that evening.

She is the undisputed queen on the pop-culture chessboard, moving seven spaces left, right, up, down, and diagonally, from city to city, picking up everyone in her way and leaving no crumbs.

Just how permeating is Taylor Swift this year?

She and The Eras Tour have done the seemingly impossible: displace football (and virtually every other topic) as the most powerful constant in America’s weekly media diet.

And speaking of football, her new love interest, NFL superstar Travis Kelce, is being called out by another NFL superstar, Aaron Rodgers, for starring in a Pfizer commercial. Just months after Aaron Rodgers went viral for dancing to the live rendition of Style at Taylor’s concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

All while CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and ESPN simply can’t keep their cameras focused on the football field, but instead, on her.

It’s fitting that she shouldered her way into the spotlight of one of America’s most sacred traditions: Sunday football, a ritual traditionally associated with beer-drinking boyfriends and middle-aged men who want nothing to do with pop culture.

Yet, there’s Taylor on their screens.

The Eras Tour has simply transcended music. If you were planning to release a song or tour, do it next year. Beatlemania, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Michael Jackson - Taylor trumps them all.

We’re so fascinated by the cultural and economic movement that is The Eras Tour that we wanted to break it down ourselves. Let’s see what the data says.

A plot titled The GDP of Taylor. It shows a series of country outlines each with a monetary value labeled as their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and in the center, there's an image of Taylor Swift with her own GDP value. Starting from the top left and moving clockwise, the countries and their respective GDPs are: Kosovo with $9.43B, Somalia with $8.13B, Togo with $8.13B, Montenegro with $6.10B, Eswatini with $4.85B, Fiji with $4.94B, Barbados with $5.64B, and Bermuda with $7.55B. Taylor Swift is in the center with a GDP of $6.30B. Each country is represented by a colored silhouette in various shades of green, yellow, purple, and pink. Taylor Swift's image is in a blue circle, and she is depicted with blond hair, wearing a sparkling dress, and posing with one hand on her hip.

Setting the stage

Taylor Swift’s first tour in 5 years kicked off in Glendale, Arizona, on March 17th, after six months of rabid internet behavior by millions of Swifties doing everything and anything trying to get a ticket.

Demand was crushing. And Ticketmaster, the sole supplier of 2023’s golden ticket, totally botched it.

On November 15th, the first day of the presale, Ticketmaster’s website crashed within an hour, leaving most fans with presale codes stranded in confusion and endlessly bouncing around in the purchase queue.

Some lucky fans were given presale codes. Most were demoted to a waitlist. The only two other options were testing your luck during the general sale (following the presale) or preparing yourself to swallow the stomach-churning premiums priced into resale tickets. None of those logistical details ended up meaning anything.

Popular gambling website Bookies.com estimates that only 5% of fans with presale codes could purchase a ticket directly via the process.

@pineapplepaperco Thanks Ticketmaster, for being lame. 😡😡😡😡 We will see how this plays out I guess #taylorswift #taylornation #taylorswiftchallenge ♬ Anti-Hero - Taylor Swift

Ticketmaster then double-downed on its incompetency, canceling the general sale of tickets, causing the price of resale tickets to surge to thousands of dollars per ticket for some shows.

All of this triggered what can most aptly be called the Taylor Economy.

Millions of Swifties hit up every person they could think of who had a shot at procuring them tickets. Estranged family members, coworkers they don’t particularly like, sisters of ex-boyfriends – hopeful tour goers sent out feelers equivalent to a shameless “u up?” 2 AM text to any potential lead.

The algebra suddenly became it’s cheaper to fly to Denver and spend a night at a hotel than it is to see her just 15 minutes away in Downtown LA.

And people did fly. In droves. Imagine you’re settling on board in the middle seat at the back of an airplane - maybe a little groggy from the night before - and half the plane starts belting out Love Story.

No distance was too far, no logistics were too insane for Swifties to get into the building - any building in any city - for The Eras Tour.

It is our humble belief that every major hotel chain and airline CFO needs to put Taylor Swift on their lists of people who deserve a generous bonus come the holiday season.

According to research firm STR, The Eras Tour generated almost $100M in hotel revenue in its first three months.

In Cincinnati, a single room at the Days Inn was going for over $1,000 during her tour dates, compared to just $72 one week later. In Atlanta, $900.


The power of Taylor Swift is that none of this chaos ultimately mattered.

She denounced Ticketmaster in an Instagram story and apologized to her fans, comparing the process of getting a ticket to going through several bear attacks.

And on March 17th, she kicked off the tour with Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince in front of 75,000 shrieking, crying, and euphoric Swifties at State Farm Stadium. The several bear attacks endured to get there – forgotten.

In the limelight

Seven months in, there’s no other way to put it.

The Eras Tour in Numbers

  • 151 shows
  • 5 continents
  • 17 countries
  • 50 cities
  • 44 songs
  • $2.4B estimated gross
  • 10M estimated attendance

The Eras Tour is a massive success.

Over 10 million estimated attendees. $2 billion in estimated gross revenue. To put these numbers into perspective, her 2018 Reputation Tour had 3 million attendees and did only $440 million gross.

A collage with the title The Eras Tour and revenue figures for different concert tours, set against a backdrop of concert images. At the top in large font is $3.60B, and below that in slightly smaller font is $2.40B. To the right, there are smaller sections each with a different tour name and corresponding revenue figure. These are, from top to bottom: Fearless Tour $0.09B, The Red Tour $0.19B, Speak Now World Tour $0.16B, The 1989 World Tour $0.32B, and Reputation Stadium Tour $0.44B. The background images show a performer on stage in various poses, with the largest image showing the artist in a blue dress with a flowing cape, mid-performance. The colors in the images range from dark blue to red, yellow, and black.

Ignoring the financials, The Eras Tour is just plain massive. A kaleidoscopic, cultural freight train spanning 18 months, 17 countries, 50 cities, 150 shows, and 44 songs topping 3 hours each show.

Reputation was less than a full calendar year and had only 53 shows, approximately a third of the size of Eras in terms of sheer scale.

But Taylor’s not just outdoing herself. We’ve simply never seen a tour quite like Eras.

In the visualization below, you can see how Eras compares to the most successful music tours in the 2000s. The visualization takes into consideration artists who tour over long periods of time, such as the Rolling Stones and Ed Sheeran.

A data visualization titled How does Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Compare to Others? It displays a comparison of revenue from the top ten international music tours between 2000 and 2023. The background of the graph is white with gray grid lines indicating revenue levels up to $2 billion. The plot uses a streamgraph format, where the width of each stream represents the revenue in a given year for different artists' tours. Highlighted artists and their earnings include The Rolling Stones with $1.216 billion from 2013-2023, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band with $268.3 million in 2016, U2 with $316 million in 2017, Ed Sheeran with $768.2 million between 2017-2019, Elton John with $334.4 million in 2022, and Bad Bunny with $373.5 million in 2022. Taylor Swift's stream is the tallest, colored in pink, on the far right, with a projected revenue of $2.2 billion. The streams for other artists are in various colors such as blue, green, and purple, and they weave across the graph over time. The source is credited to Pollstar with projections by CNN & QuestionPro.

The Rolling Stones is the only other touring group to eclipse the billion-dollar revenue mark but needed nearly ten years (a decade!) to do so.

In one shot - one tour - Eras is projected to do over $2B.

Within this context, The Eras Tour is staggering.

You can flip through and across decades in the application below and reach the same conclusion we did: Taylor and Eras stand alone.

There is simply no one like Taylor Swift and nothing like this tour.

One thing that we think is worth calling out: the tour with the second-highest average gross in the 2020s (so far) was Beyoncé and her Renaissance World Tour.

All to say: bow down to the queens 👑

Opening acts

Finally, we looked at the impact of Taylor Swift on a few of her openers: Gracie Abrams, Beabadoobie, and Paramore.

We wondered: what dividend does Taylor pay to her music industry friends? In the instances of Gracie Abrams and Beabadoobie, you can see a sharp uptick in metrics like Spotify followers, Shazam total plays, and YouTube subscribers immediately after they opened at Eras.

Interestingly, Paramore didn’t seem to benefit from opening at Eras by these metrics. One possible explanation is that Paramore is already hugely popular, so a sharp increase was unlikely.