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Economics (Taylor's Version)

‘Swifties’ not thrifty when it comes to buying power

A concert venue fills up slowly as the show is about to begin. The stage is mostly dark, a giant screen being the only visible presence, displaying a big clock counting down. Once it reaches zero, a woman’s voice is heard. Dancers walk across the stage with capes flying over their heads, pink smoke can be seen underneath them. The singing grows louder as an audience of thousands cheer. Finally, the reason for it all rises from below the stage and she sings the opening number of yet another sold out show, beginning three hours of sensational entertainment.

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is a global sensation. The 33-year-old recently hit the No. 1 ranking as Spotify’s most streamed artist, and she has more than 80 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Artist 100 chart.

Even for those who don’t know Swift’s music, lyrics such as “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me,” from the song Anti-Hero, and “It’s new, the shape of your body, it’s blue,” from the song “Cruel Summer,” are familiar due to their recent popularity on the radio.

Swift has been in the music industry for the past 17 years and has 10 albums to her name. According to the New York Times, her most recent album, “Midnights,” sold more than one-and-a-half million copies, the most since Adele’s “25” in 2015. Additionally, each of her albums, except for her debut, have hit No. 1 in the charts, making her the woman with the highest amount in history.

Swift’s discography has a mix of genres such as pop, rock, indie, country, and more. She started recording music when she was 14, signing with Sony/ATV, making her the youngest singer in the company’s history. Her eponymous first album was released in 2004, when she was 16.

After the release of “Midnights” in 2022, Swift announced plans for her “Eras Tour,” which showcased the songs from all of her albums — each one representing different stages of her career, related to different albums.

The tour begins with “Lover,” goes into “Fearless” followed by “Evermore,” “Reputation,” “Speak Now,” “Red,” “Folklore,” “1989,” and finally, “Midnights.” She also has a segment halfway through the concert where she performs two surprise songs, such examples being “Clean,” “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” “Our Song,” “This is Me Trying,” and more.

Swift’s concert tour started March 17 and will continue until December 2024. At the end of the American first leg of the tour, Swift has already made approximately $4.1 billion in personal earnings, according to the Washington Post.

Swift’s fans, known as “Swifties,” were hyped enough that the tour was a sellout before the first concert. Ticket prices started at around $49, but quickly hit the resale market, averaging $1,611 on SeatGeek.

The economic impact of the tour affects more than just Swift’s bank balance. Fans travel long distances to attend the concerts, which has increased revenue in hotels, shops, and restaurants across the country. Cities such as Cincinnati, Kansas City and Colorado predicted revenues ranging from $48 million to $300 million, with a $208 million increase in revenue for hotel rooms nationwide.

UP graphic by Maddie Sims.
UP graphic by Maddie Sims.

“Swifties” turned the tour stops from simple concerts to trendy communal experiences. Audiences wore costumes, traded friendship bracelets, and group chanting, “You forgive, you forget, but you never let it go” during the song “Bad Blood,” and even, “1, 2, 3 Let’s go, bitch,” during the song “Delicate.”

The friendship bracelet trend comes from the lyric, “So make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it” from the song “You’re On Your Own, Kid.” From April to August, Etsy revenues sales of bracelets generated $3 million. Additionally, merchandise made for the tour sold fast, and is estimated to have generated $2.27 billion.

With the cost of merchandise, costumes, and travel, an average fan attending the Eras tour spent approximately $1,279.

The increased hotel and restaurant usage created a job increase, with a 1,000% increased demand in workers in the Boston area alone. In Los-Angeles, when Swift made a six-concert-stop, an estimated 3,300 temporary jobs were created.

The revenue from the tour allowed Swift to increase the pay of her dancers by up to $100,000 per person.

Different cities have taken advantage of the Taylor Swift craze, creating different ice cream flavors, bonbons, and lattes, inspired from her songs. A cat cafe business in Washington State held listening-parties for Swift’s upcoming shows at its two locations. At their location in Bellingham, close to Seattle, Neko Cat Cafe sold concert tickets for $40 each, which increased ticket sales in Seattle by 140-percent. The cafe also earned $3,000 from the event. Other cities in the U.S. have similar stories about how their economy has increased due to the Eras tour.

A strong economic boom involves travel costs. It’s been about three years since the COVID-19 lockdown, and the tour hit at the perfect time to take advantage of people’s desires to get back out in the world. While Swift is not taking advantage of a global crisis, she is the center of a perfect storm of marketing and opportunity.

Outside of the Eras tour, “Swifties” spend money on the singer’s related merchandise.

Jade Kisner, Granbury junior, said she has been a fan as long as she can remember.

“I’ve been a ‘Swiftie’ as long as my mom’s had a hold of Taylor Swift albums,” she said. “(I’ve spent) too much, we’ll leave it at that — the Taylor Swift merch store alone, probably $500, which doesn’t include all the vinyls or the CDs. If I try to think about it, I might cry.”

Alex Diaz, Houston sophomore, said they have been a fan since around 2010-2011 and unlike Kisner, most of their merchandise has been given to them.

“All my Taylor Swift stuff has actually been gifts for Christmas or birthdays,” they said. “I’ve only bought a vinyl and a calendar for $75.”

Micheal Stroud, Lumberton junior, said she’s been a “Swiftie” since she was around 12, and the track “Our Song” has a special place in her heart. Stroud said she just started to get back into Swift’s music and is looking to buy.

“I never knew exactly where to look (for merchandise),” she said. “But, now that my roommate knows where to get everything, I’m most likely going to be spending a ton.”

Now that Swift is taking a break from the U.S. and traveling for international concerts, she and her team have released the “Eras Tour” movie in theaters. The nearly three hour rendition of the concert is a multi-camera composite from her Los 

Angeles run. Apart from the tickets, fans can buy a collectible popcorn bucket, cup with the tour logo, and a miniature poster.

Movie fans spent $37 million in tickets during the first day of pre-sales for the Cinemark, Regal, and AMC theaters. In addition, the global sales reached about $100 million as of press time.

In an unusual move, Swift struck her own deal with AMC Entertainment, the country’s largest cinema operator, to screen the movie, rather than going through a studio, which allowed her to retain control of its distribution. Swift taking full ownership of her intellectual property is not new. Back in June 2019, Swift left Big Machine Records. Its owner, Scooter Braun, acquired her first six albums and took ownership of the intellectual property, meaning Swift could n0t control the dissemination or licensing her music. In response, Swift started re-recording her albums, calling them “Taylor’s Version.” Along with re-recording the albums, she also released tracks “from the vault,” songs which didn’t make the initial albums. As the new works were subtly different, they did not fall under Braun’s ownership. Swift discourages people from streaming or listening to the old versions. She effectively created a new back catalogue that she owned.

In the U.S. alone, the Eras tour has generated huge revenues that extend far beyond the concert arena. As the tour moves internationally, one can only guess at the global economic impact it will have.

In the song “Long Live,” Swift sings, “If you have children someday, when they point to the pictures, please tell ’em my name.” Judging by the singers cultural and economic interest, it will be a long time before anyone needs to be reminded who she is.

Category: UPbeat