Earlier this week during the Grammys, host Trevor Noah made a daring joke about Taylor Swift. He gestured towards her and said, “As Taylor makes her way through the room, the surrounding economy thrives. Just look at that.”
The statement was not completely a joke. According to estimates, Swift’s Eras tour contributed $5 billion to the US economy, and the US Federal Reserve specifically recognized her for boosting the national tourism sector. Dan Fleetwood, President of QuestionPro, the research firm responsible for the estimate, stated that if Taylor Swift were an economy, she would be larger than 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, and a similar situation is anticipated in Sydney. To accommodate the high demand, Qantas has increased the number of seats on flights to both cities by 11,000. According to reports, Australian bead sales have skyrocketed as fans of Taylor Swift prepare friendship bracelets to trade at her concerts. (There have been reports of fans being upset that they can only bring as many bracelets as they can wear on their arms, but this decision was made by Swift’s team.)
This is unlike anything we have witnessed previously.
Construction is currently underway on three large merchandise marquees at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. These marquees are expected to accommodate the massive crowds of about 86,000 per night, which Swift will perform for during the peak of her career. This is being done in an effort to ease the pressure inside 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.
However, the Eras tour continues to be one of the largest events hosted at the MCG. For over a week, the nearby Brunton Avenue will be inaccessible as trucks transport and remove parts of Swift’s stage. In order to prepare for the AFL season, over 12,000 square meters of turf will be available to repair any damage to the ground. Additionally, each concert will require the help of more than 5,000 MCG employees.
Josh Eltringham, the general manager of venue and event services at the MCG, states that they have never had such high staffing numbers before. He has been organizing the Swift concerts for a year and a half. He also mentions the significant increase in infrastructure, as evident by the presence of marquees, which have never been used at the MCG before due to the immense demand and excitement surrounding the event. He believes that this is an unprecedented occurrence and will likely never be replicated.
Approximately 300,000 fans of Taylor Swift are anticipated to attend concerts at Accor Stadium in Sydney for four consecutive nights. To alleviate congestion, attendees are advised to avoid driving and utilize alternative forms of transportation. The parking facilities will be under additional strain as an additional 100,000 individuals are expected to attend Blink 182 shows nearby on the same nights.
Both cities will have additional trains and buses, but only Sydney will provide free public transportation with ticket purchase. The exact number of services is still being determined, but Transport for NSW has stated that there will be hundreds more trains and buses running to the area every night.
“The upcoming four-night concert series is anticipated to be one of the largest events held at the precinct thus far. Our team at TfNSW, led by Executive Director Craig Moran, is eager for Swifties to fully relish in this experience. We urge all concert attendees to plan ahead, allocate extra time for travel, and be mindful of potential crowds and lines for transportation, particularly following the concert.”
The fight against ‘Taylorgating’
Some fans of Taylor Swift have gone to extreme measures to secure good spots at her concerts, such as those in Argentina who made a detailed schedule to wait in line for five months. However, Accor Stadium and the MCG are trying to discourage ticketholders from arriving too early. The MCG has advised ticketholders not to line up before 2:30pm on the day of the concert and will relocate anyone who arrives excessively early to Yarra Park nearby. Both stadiums will open their gates at approximately 4:30pm.
Earlier this week, the premier of Victoria, Jacinta Allan, revealed that measures were being taken to prevent “Taylorgating” at the MCG. This refers to fans without tickets congregating outside to still be a part of the concert experience. Police, emergency services, and security personnel will be present outside the MCG and Accor to manage these individuals. They will be asked to leave if they are found to be drinking or setting up tents. The venues have urged people to avoid coming to the area and have emphasized that there will be no outdoor screens broadcasting the concert.
However, it is evident that all parties involved are aware that they are facing a futile struggle. In a statement on Sunday, Allan expressed, “We are also aware of the impact of being present at the event.”
Eltringham stated that if the initial evening in Melbourne is disorderly or hazardous, the MCG management will collaborate with the police to review their actions for the following event.
“I have hope that some will listen to us,” he said. “However, there may be others who won’t, and we will be ready for that.”
Additional merchandise booths have been added outside of stadiums in Sydney and Melbourne. While it may seem excessive, Taylor Swift’s merchandise is highly sought after. In the United States, where she reportedly made $300 million in merchandise sales, there were instances of fans camping out for days, hiding under delivery trucks, and spending thousands of dollars just to purchase certain items. One example is a blue sweatshirt that was exclusively sold at her concerts and quickly became a fan favorite.
According to Dr. Georgia Carroll, the only academic dedicated to Taylor Swift, a band hoodie typically costs $100. However, what makes her merchandise unique is that it is always released in limited quantities, creating a sense of urgency for fans to purchase. This clever marketing strategy may lead to fans spending a significant amount of money in order to have a complete collection of Swift’s merchandise.
Spending as ‘fan identity’
During the Eras tour in the United States, an approximation indicated that for every US$100 spent on a live show, there would typically be an additional US$300 spent on things such as hotels, meals, merchandise, and transportation. However, fans of Taylor Swift were reportedly spending an average of US$1,300.
This is partially due to their dedication to her, as well as her habit of releasing numerous variations of a single item. For example, there are over 20 versions of her album Midnights that are available for purchase, each with additional songs and unique cover art.
According to Caroll, if any other artist were to sell eight different vinyl versions of their album, it would be seen as copying. However, when Taylor does it, people are excited to buy all of them. It’s a unique aspect of being a fan that no one else has been able to achieve.
Accor and the MCG staff prioritize the safety and enjoyment of individuals. Eltringham offered wise guidance for Swifties: stay well-hydrated and don’t forget to have breakfast.
The speaker expressed concern for individuals who become so caught up in their excitement that they neglect their well-being and end up feeling unwell during the event. They urge attendees to prioritize self-care to avoid missing out on the show.