Music Industry

If you think Taylor Swift mania is crazy now, just wait

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

Every generation or so, a major artist enters what’s called their imperial phase, a period of their career where they can’t seem to do anything wrong. Everything aligns perfectly and it seems that the universe now revolves around that act. Right now that artist is Taylor Swift.

This kind of mania is not entirely new. We saw similar imperial phases with The Rolling Stones (1972, 1980, 1989), Led Zeppelin (1971-75), Elton John (1971-1975), Michael Jackson (1983-1992), Madonna (1986-1992), U2 (1987-1992 and also perhaps during the 360 Tour of 2009-11), and both Backstreet Boys and NSYNC (1996-2001). Billy Joel remarked, “The only thing I can compare it to is the phenomenon of Beatlemania [in the 60s].”

The reasons for Swift’s turn at the very top of pop culture are complex. She’s a top-flight songwriter and performer. As the defacto CEO of her empire, she’s been brilliant, carefully crafting and protecting her image, overseeing all the marketing, planning the Eras Tour, and making some savvy business decisions when it comes to issuing new music, charitable initiatives, and dropping just the right amount of benevolence at exactly the right time. Taylor has set all kinds of chart records with her albums (more Number One albums in the Billboard Top 200 than any other woman, someone who’s had four albums in the Top 10 at the same time, etc.) It’s estimated that the nightly box office on this tour is as much as US$14 million.

According to the New York Times, the overall economic benefits to North America will be about US$4.6 billion: tickets, merch, airfare, hotel, parking, restaurants, drinks, even nail salons for fans who want to look sharp for the show. That’s about the same economic impact as the Olympic Games had on Beijing in 2008. [Edit: Taylor’s trip to Toronto also shows how bad a deal the city’s agreement with the World Cup is.]

It all makes for great media coverage that encompasses everything from woman power to the spin-off economic benefits being generated by this tour (hotels for Toronto are pretty much already sold out for her visit in November 2024). Here’s a quote from Dan Eastwood of online research company QuestionPro: “If Taylor Swift were an economy, she’d be bigger than 50 countries; if she was a corporation, her Net Promoter Score would make her the fourth most admired brand, and her loyalty numbers mimic those of subjects to a royal crown.”

So yeah, she’s big. And popular. And powerful. But let’s break this down a bit.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38346 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “If you think Taylor Swift mania is crazy now, just wait

  • THANK YOU!
    Finally someone pointing out how dangerous Taylor Swift and her fanatics are. Why is it acceptable for her fans to go from zero to death threat in nano-seconds and Swift to condone their behaviour by her abject silence.
    I can name many musicians who have publicly distanced themselves from “fans” whose behaviour does not live up to their standards. These are the people I respect, not the Professional Victim who should not be given the insane amount of media oxygen she gets for the unacceptable and borderline illegal actions of her and her fans.

    My apologies for all the hate mail & death threats I’m sure this will generate.

    Reply

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