Taylor Swift’s era-defining “Eras” tour is flying like a jet stream, high above the music scene — by billions of dollars.
The tour could gross $2.2 billion in North American ticket sales alone, according to August survey data from research firm QuestionPro provided to CNN exclusively. That unprecedented total represents primary ticket sales for the US shows that Swift just concluded in Los Angeles, plus a second North American leg coming next year.
The estimated totals are the latest example of the incredible demand for entertainment and experiences that has helped boost the economy, and more specifically, is a staggering show of Swift’s star power and influence on local US economies.
The average price of pre-sale and first sale tickets was $455.78, and Swift has 68 shows total in North America. The survey did not take into account whether respondents bought one ticket or multiple tickets.
The average attendance per show was 72,459, accounting for closed off areas and floor seats, according to QuestionPro data.
That comes to $2.2 billion — and that would make “Eras” the highest-grossing tour ever. Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour was the previous record holder, grossing over $887 million from 2018 to 2023, according to Larry Miller, director of the music business program at New York University Steinhardt.
“We’re talking about a global pop artist who faces virtually infinite demand for those tickets,” said Miller of Swift.
“Eras” has become one of the biggest social events of the year, with concertgoers doling out thousands of dollars on tickets, outfits, transportation and travel accommodations. Concertgoers participating in a QuestionPro poll of 862 people who say they attended at least one “Eras” concert said they spent an average of $291.62 each on their outfits, $214.80 on merchandise and $131.48 for food and drinks.
‘An economic phenomenon’
“Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ tour is rewriting the playbook of entertainment economics,” said Chris Leyden, director of growth marketing at SeatGeek. “She’s not just a performer — she’s an economic phenomenon.”
The average resale price of an “Eras” ticket was $1,607, SeatGeek told CNN. That’s up 741% from her “Reputation” tour in 2018, during which the average resale ticket price was $191.
A representative for Swift did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Swift finished her last US “Eras” show of this year in Los Angeles in August — but not without adding international tour dates, another North American leg of the tour, announcing re-recordings of her albums “1989” and “Speak Now” and releasing the latter album. She kicks off the Latin American leg of her tour later this month.
So far, the economic impact of Swift’s blockbuster tour has been wide-ranging.
Earlier this month, truckers for the tour were given $100,000 checks each, which one trucking company head called “life-changing.”
Food banks across the country in the communities where she has performed have said they received hefty donations from Swift, allowing pantries to replenish their inventories. One food bank network in Arizona said Swift’s donation allowed it to send several tractor-trailers filled with 40,000 pounds of fresh produce to its member food banks.
“Taylor Swift’s donation certainly helped at a time when we’re seeing the need climb and climb and climb,” Terri Shoemaker, a spokesperson at Arizona Food Bank Network, told CNN.
Retailers have also seen a boost from concertgoers looking for clothes that match the theme of Swift’s “eras.” Shops are marketing outfits featuring everything from sundresses and metallic boots to romantic, breezy long dresses and daring red gowns to Swifites shopping for concert looks.
Swift even earned a nod in the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, a collection of survey responses from businesses around the country. According to one business, “May was 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,” Fed officials wrote.
Swift kicked off the highly-anticipated “Eras” — her first tour since her “Reputation” stadium tour in 2018 — in March. The show features an expansive, roughly three-hour long set list that spans 14 years of her career.
The Ticketmaster meltdown
Hell was the journey for Swifties who sought tickets, though it brought those who secured them heaven. The heavy demand snarled Ticketmaster’s website last November, when pre-sale tickets first went live, leaving some verified fans locked out even with access codes. That spurred some Swifties to file a lawsuit against Ticketmaster and lawmakers to grill a top executive from parent-company Live Nation Entertainment during a three-hour hearing.
Ticketmaster did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Fans who couldn’t secure tickets weren’t deterred from heading to concert venue parking lots to listen from there, according to data analytics platform Placer.ai.
During the three nights of the tour’s stop in Nashville, Tennessee, about 33% of the Nissan Stadium’s total crowd during the concerts stood outside the venue in parking lots to tailgate. Groups also gathered at stops in Philadelphia and Arlington, Texas.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Ethan Chernofsky, senior vice president of marketing at Placer.ai, noting that the phenomenon is reminiscent of die-hard sports fans tailgating outside stadiums. “That’s just not concert behavior.”
Swift’s tour is slated to conclude in late 2024, provided she doesn’t extend the tour yet again. Miller says that while it’s tough to imagine another musical artist beating her “Eras” record, it’s not impossible to see Swift topping it herself.
“When it comes to Taylor, I’ve learned to never say never,” he said.
Tami Luhby contributed to this report.