Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is like mini Super Bowls for local economies

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Bennett Purser

Taylor Swift performs during the first night of the Cincinnati stop of the Eras tour at Paycor Stadium, June 30, 2023. Credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect.

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is one of the biggest musical sensations of the summer, crashing sales on Ticketmaster and expecting to gross more than $1 billion. Taylor Swift is performing six nights at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium next month, wrapping up the domestic leg of her tour. She recently added more than 50 stops internationally. 

Eras is a de-facto greatest hits tour, where Swift cycles through different chapters of her career, says Neil Shah, pop music reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Each segment of the show has its own aesthetic, moving from earlier albums such as “Fearless” and “Speak Now” — to the latest releases, including “Midnights.” 

Each concert lasts about three hours — following other musical stars like Bruce Springsteen and Guns N’ Roses in recent years. Tickets for each stop haven’t come cheap either. Shah says that while some tickets originally sold for about $50, prices steeply climbed. Some VIP packages set concertgoers back about $900. But Shah points out that doesn’t include the resale market. 

“When people are talking about very expensive tickets, it's important to keep in mind: Are we talking about what's called the primary market where Taylor and Ticketmaster are selling tickets to fans? Are we talking about the secondary market, i.e. StubHub where fans [or brokers] are selling tickets they bought … for multi-$1000 figures.”

Shah says Swift’s Eras Tour is expected to be the first $1 billion tour. Previous records were held by Elton John and his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which grossed $939 million, as Shah explains, and Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) Tour, which raked in $776 million. 

He points out that gross ticket sales do not represent how much the artist pockets themselves, due to operating costs. But Shah estimates Swift will walk away with at least $400 million — pre-tax — once her international tour wraps up. 

“That's just, by the way, from concert ticket sales. There's another component here, which is all the merchandise that's being sold on the tour. It's a smaller amount, but if you add that in, that lump would be another $150 million, let's say, for all of these 131 dates. And so then you're looking at … something like $650 million in profit for this tour.”

But are Swifties paying a fair price for these tickets? Shah says the Eras Tour is a high quality and technically ambitious show that requires a lot of money to put on. He points to operational costs (logistics, labor) that have risen about 30% post-COVID pandemic.  

That being said, he adds, “When you have so big of a tour, when you have sky high concert ticket prices, when you have so much merch for sale the way Taylor does, it does raise the question of how much is too much? At what point are Taylor Swift fans — Swifties — being taken for a ride?”

Still, local economies nationwide have been benefitting from the tour. Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses are seeing rising revenues as fans from all over flock to major U.S. cities.

Swift’s tour was even name-checked in Philadelphia’s edition of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Beige Book. The economic report notes that the city saw “the strongest month for hotel revenue in Philadelphia since the onset of the pandemic, in large part due to an influx of guests for the Taylor Swift concerts in the city.” 

The tour’s economic effect is like what would happen if mini Super Bowls cropped up around the country, Shah suggests.

“I don't think that something like this is so significant that it would show up in the country’s GDP data in a glaring, massive way. But it's still, on a local level, very significant for these economies. … You see the thankfulness from all the cities doing things like renaming themselves for various Taylor Swift songs.”

While other artists have boosted revenues for cities, they haven’t had the same pull as Swift. Shah looks to Beyoncé, whose Renaissance World Tour kicked off in May in Sweden and will stop at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium for three nights in September.

“When these two artists tour solo, [Beyoncé] tends to just bring in slightly less money. … Back in 2018, when Taylor had her Reputation Tour, that tour grossed about $350 million. And then Beyoncé’s tour when she was solo, not with Jay Z, around the ‘Lemonade’ era, that brought in about $250 million. So Beyoncé is most definitely a beast but a slightly smaller one.”

So to help revive the national economy, should pop stars tour non-stop? 

“The live music industry [does] play a significant role in the U.S. economy. It is good for business. It's basically night and day compared to what [was] obtained at the height of the pandemic, obviously. Live music has come back and in a roaring way, and these huge arena and stadium shows are doing great, artists are making more and more money.”

However, the live music industry is one-sided, he points out. “While Taylor and Beyoncé … are doing great on tour … you are seeing pain in the industry with smaller festivals … theater shows and mid-tier artists. And so the risk here is how lopsided will things get? You want a healthy industry where different parts of the ecosystem are benefiting.”



  • Neil Shah - pop-music reporter, Wall Street Journal