‘Swift-onomics’: When a tsunami of Swifties crashes into Toronto, it will leave an economic boost in its wake

The Current18:52How mega-concerts are transforming the music industry

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When Abigale Valliere saw Taylor Swift perform 44 songs over the course of four hours in Detroit this summer, her pulse was sky-high.

The experience was “life-changing,” the Toronto resident said, and even though it cost her more than $1,500, she’s ready to pay another $1,000 for a ticket when the Eras tour comes to Toronto in November 2024.

“I’m wealthy for Taylor Swift,” she said. “I would go to all six [shows] if I could.”

Thanks to fans like Valliere, Eras is on track to becoming the world’s first ever billion-dollar tour

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Mega-concerts are transforming the music industry, and this tour in particular is bringing in so much money that world leaders including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony and Chilean President Gabriel Boricand have taken to begging for concerts on social media

Ticket sales alone estimated at $120 million

“Extraordinary artists elicit extraordinary responses,” said Dean Budnick, editor of Relix, a live music magazine, and co-author of Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped.

The economic impact that’s rippled through host cities of Swift’s mega-concert is so palpable it’s been dubbed “Swift-onomics” by Bloomberg reporter Augusta Saraiva. So when Swift finally rolls into Toronto, it’s not just her fans with high expectations — it’s local businesses and Canadian economists. 

“The hype is real,” said Daniel Tsai, a business professor at the University of Toronto. “There’s going to be a lot of money coming in.”

Ticket sales alone are estimated to reach $120 million across the six nights of entertainment, and then there’s the spin-off effects, which could be as high as $700 million, he said.

Taylor Swift performs onstage for the opening night of her Eras tour at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The city was ceremonially renamed to ‘Swift City, ERAzona’ in March for the event. (Kevin Winter/TAS Rights Management/Getty Images)

Hotels are already doubling the cost of rooms for those nights in November 2024 — with some going for over $900 a day. And if the Rogers Centre opens up the dome, there could be up to 50,000 people on Harbourfront just listening to Taylor Swift for six nights, said Tsai. 

“Now we’re talking Super Bowl epic proportions here, even bigger than [the] Super Bowl,” he said.

Mega-concerts, money and marketing

Swift’s two shows in Colorado this summer led to a $186.9-million boost to the state’s GDP for the year, a report by the Common Sense Institute found, and a similar boost was reported in Philadelphia.

Some estimates say her tour could generate $4.6 billion in consumer spending. 

“If Taylor Swift was a marketer, she’d have a PhD in it,” said Tsai.

“The fact of the matter is, people are willing to spend big money on the experience of Taylor Swift as opposed to just calling this a concert. So I think what we have here is a generational event where people are saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to worry about the recession or my purse strings and I will spend the big bucks this year,'” he said.

Toronto’s hospitality industry has a lot of preparation to do if it wants to accommodate the hordes of fans that Swift will bring into the city for two weeks, according to Tsai.

November is usually a shoulder season, with the weather getting colder and business slowing down, but 2024 will be a different story for local businesses, hotels and restaurants. They’ll need a significant influx of staff to make it work, he said. 

Getting verified and finding codes 

In order to purchase a Taylor Swift ticket, you need a code. And in order to receive a code, you need to be registered as a “verified fan.” 

When ticket-hopefuls create an account on Ticketmaster, they’re asked to provide a phone number so an automated voice can call and provide them with a one-time code.

According to Budnick, it’s a way to weed out scalpers.

“The goal is to put tickets in the hands of fans,” he said. 

But not everyone who registers receives a code. Scoring a ticket is a lengthy, competitive process that has been described by some Swifties as winning a lottery.

These Swifties got waitlisted for tickets — but they’re still hopeful

When Valliere got verified on Ticketmaster in November 2022 to buy tickets for the Detroit concert she attended, she waited eight hours online before finally getting through, only to find out there weren’t any left.

In May, she was randomly sent a code from Ticketmaster saying there were a limited number of previously-held tickets that had just been released, so she immediately bought the first one that was available. 

Valliere is still verified and managed to score a code, but her hunt for a Toronto ticket is still on. 

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