Earlier this week during the Grammys, host Trevor Noah made a daring joke about Taylor Swift. He remarked, “As Taylor navigates the room, the local economy seems to flourish.” He then gestured towards her and added, “Just look at that.”
This statement is not entirely humorous. According to estimates, Swift’s Eras tour had a significant impact of US$5 billion on the US economy. The US Federal Reserve even acknowledged her role in boosting the national tourism sector. Dan Fleetwood, the president of research company QuestionPro, stated that if Taylor Swift were an economy, she would surpass the GDP of 50 countries.
Her impact can already be felt in Australia, where Sydney and Melbourne are busy preparing for her arrival next week. It is expected that Swift’s seven concerts in the two cities – three in Melbourne and four in Sydney – will generate $140m, according to state government modelling.
Over 85% of the hotels and motels in Melbourne are reserved for Taylor Swift’s first two shows, with a similar demand expected in Sydney. In response, Qantas has increased its flight capacity by 11,000 seats to both cities. Australian bead sales have also skyrocketed as Swifties make friendship bracelets to exchange at the concerts. Some fans are disappointed that they can only bring as many bracelets as they can wear on their arms, but this rule was set by Swift’s team.
“This is unprecedented”
Construction is currently taking place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in preparation for Swift’s anticipated performances, which are expected to draw the largest crowds she has ever had in her career. The goal is to have three large merchandise marquees set up to help ease the congestion within the venue.
Swift’s Eras tour has shattered attendance records at venues everywhere from Nashville to Brazil. Her Australian shows are unlikely break national attendance records – Ed Sheeran set a new record at the MCG with 109,500 last year – as her large stage and long runway will leave less space for fans.
The Eras tour continues to be one of the largest events ever held at the MCG. Brunton Avenue nearby will be shut down for over a week to accommodate the delivery and removal of Swift’s stage equipment. In preparation for the AFL season, there are 12,000 sq metres of turf available to repair any damage to the grounds. Additionally, over 5,000 MCG employees will be employed for each concert.
Josh Eltringham, the general manager of venue and event services at the MCG, says that the staffing numbers for the Swift concerts are unprecedented. He has been working on the concerts for a year and a half and is amazed by the amount of infrastructure being brought in. The marquees are a new addition due to the high demand and excitement surrounding the concerts. Eltringham believes that this is a unique event unlike anything they have experienced before and will likely never experience again.
Around 300,000 fans of Taylor Swift are anticipated to attend the concerts at Accor Stadium in Sydney for four consecutive evenings. Attendees are advised to avoid driving and utilize alternative modes of transportation due to the added strain on parking facilities, as an additional 100,000 individuals are projected to attend Blink 182 concerts in the vicinity during the same time period.
Sydney and the other city are adding extra train and bus services, but only Sydney is providing free public transportation with ticket purchase. The exact number of additional services has not been determined yet, but Transport for NSW has verified that there will be hundreds of extra trains and buses operating in the area every night.
The upcoming four-night concert event at the precinct is anticipated to be one of the largest to date. The TfNSW executive director of customer journey management, Craig Moran, hopes that Swifties will have a great time at the concert and encourages them to plan accordingly. This includes allowing for extra travel time and being prepared for large crowds and potential transportation delays, especially after the concert.
The battle to stop ‘Taylorgating’
Although some dedicated Swifties have gone to extreme measures to secure good spots, such as creating a detailed schedule and waiting in line for five months in Argentina, Accor Stadium and the MCG are trying to discourage early arrival of ticketholders. The MCG has advised ticketholders not to queue outside the stadium before 2:30pm on the day of the concert and has announced that anyone who arrives too early will be directed to Yarra Park nearby. Gates at both stadiums will open at approximately 4:30pm.
Earlier this week, the premier of Victoria, Jacinta Allan, revealed plans to prevent “Taylorgating” at the MCG. This refers to fans without tickets gathering outside to still be a part of the concert experience. Police, emergency services, and security personnel will be present at the MCG and Accor to manage these Taylorgaters. They will be asked to leave if they are consuming alcohol or setting up tents. The venues have urged people to not attend, emphasizing that there will be no screens outside broadcasting the event happening inside.
However, it seems that all parties involved are aware that they are facing an uphill battle. During a discussion on Sunday, Allan stated, “We are also well aware of the impact of being present at the event.”
Eltringham stated that in the event of a disorderly or unsafe first night in Melbourne, the MCG management will collaborate with the police to evaluate their actions for future shows.
“I have faith that some individuals will heed our words,” he stated. “However, there may be some who choose not to, and we must be ready for that.”
Additional merchandise booths have been placed outside the stadiums in Sydney and Melbourne. While it may seem excessive, merchandise from Swift is highly desirable. In the US, where she reportedly made $300 million in merchandise sales, there were accounts of fans camping out for days, sneaking under delivery trucks, and spending significant amounts of money just to purchase specific items – such as a popular blue sweatshirt that was exclusively available at her shows.
According to Dr. Georgia Carroll, the only academic dedicated to Taylor Swift, purchasing a band hoodie will always cost you $100. However, what sets her merchandise apart is that she releases limited edition items, creating a sense of urgency to buy before it’s too late. This is not a deceptive tactic, but rather a smart marketing strategy that ultimately leads fans to spend a significant amount of money in order to have a complete collection.
Spending as ‘fan identity’
During the US leg of the Eras tour, an approximation indicated that for every US$100 spent on attending a live show, there was typically an additional US$300 spent on related expenses such as accommodations, meals, merchandise, and transportation. However, fans of Taylor Swift, known as Swifties, were reportedly spending an average of US$1,300 per show.
One reason for this is their strong loyalty to her, as well as her habit of putting out various editions of a single item. For example, there are over 20 different versions of her album Midnights that can be purchased, each with bonus tracks and unique covers.
Caroll states that if another artist were to sell eight variations of their album on vinyl, they would likely be accused of scamming their fans. However, when it comes to Taylor Swift, fans are eager to purchase all versions without hesitation. This phenomenon is unique to Taylor and reflects the strong bond between her and her fans.
To both Accor and the MCG staff, the main priority is ensuring the safety and enjoyment of all individuals. Eltringham offered wise counsel to Swifties: stay hydrated and don’t forget to have breakfast.
The speaker cautioned that many enthusiastic individuals tend to neglect their own well-being, becoming unwell and missing out on the event. Their advice to those attending is to prioritize self-care.