From Breaking Hearts to Breaking Diplomatic Relationships: Taylor Swift and the Eras Tour Phenomenon

Critically acclaimed and heavily praised, Taylor Swift is a juggernaut name that, whether you like it or not, you are bound to hear when the phrase "singer-songwriter" is mentioned.

Critically acclaimed and heavily praised, Taylor Swift is a juggernaut name that, whether you like it or not, you are bound to hear when the phrase “singer-songwriter” is mentioned. Having been named Person of the Year (2023) by TIME for her influence on the music scene, Swift’s blazing  fame  is  nowhere  near  extinguished  for  the foreseeable future. But what makes this Pensylvanian-born singer different from that of the rest?

Harvey Young, dean of the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, says, “She (Swift) is a generational  talent.  Her  music  was  literally the soundtrack to a generation’s most formative years” (2023). Taylor Swift has been in the music industry for around 17 years, debuting with her first album, “Taylor Swift” in 2006. In some cases, veteran status in the music industry sparks the question of when their music will expire; however, many of Swift’s fans who have followed her since her debut essentially grew up with her. As they felt the pressures of entering adulthood, Swift also conveyed her struggles in her story-driven written songs (Pazzanese, 2023). Swift made the decision to re-record half of her discography in 2019 after a legal battle with her old label , which allowed her to gain exposure to a new generation of fans. Therefore, when it came time for her world tour, it is safe to say that the success did not come as a surprise.

Taylor’s  fans—  otherwise  known  as  Swifties—  are  an  incredibly  loyal  fanbase  that  has contributed massively to where the singer is. The loyalty of these fans is apparent every time the singer has released her albums filled with intricate story-telling-like wording. With 105,505,072 monthly listeners across the globe (Spotify, 2024) and being the most streamed female singer on Spotify, Swift’s newest album, The Tortured Poets Department was a massive success, having climbed and is residing at the number one spot of the Billboard top 200 (Billboard, 2024) for a whopping  six  weeks  tying  its  predecessor,  one  of Swift’s most critically acclaimed albums,

Folklore (Sternlicht, 2020). Swift has also set and broken her records, being the first and only female singer to win the Album of the Year Grammy Awards four times, with four albums, 3 of which were written in different genres (Grammy Academy, 2024). Now, if an artist were to have this massive success amongst the general population and critics, there is only one scenario one could imagine if an artist of this level were to hold a world tour.

Enter the Eras Tour. A glamorous 3-hour set and more than 150 shows across five continents, the Eras tour was set to surpass the $1 billion mark in early 2023, which it did in December 2023 (Millman, 2023), breaking the record of the highest-grossing music tour of all time; previously held  by Elton John’s multi-year farewell tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, that made $939 million (Anon, 2023) in 2023. However, this big success was not only felt by the artist. The Swiftonomic phenomenon— a term given for the economic influence of Taylor Swift— was bound to hit the cities, states, or even countries that held a show.

The Eras Tour was predicted to boost the United Kingdom’s economy by £997 million ($1.2 billion) with its 15-show run nationwide. A report by Barclays (2024) found that the average Swiftie spent £848 for tickets and other miscellaneous expenses to see the artist live— around 12 times the average cost of a night out in the UK. Mitsumasa Etou, a researcher for the Tokyo City University, stated their surprise after analyzing the ¥34 billion ($230 million) economic impact with ¥24.3 billion ($162.7 million) going straight to Tokyo’s economy Swift’s four-show run in her first stop of the Asian leg in Japan made, “That is just from one person performing four nights!” (Capellan, 2024). The effects of the Eras Tour was also not limited to the time the artist was there. Etou continued, stating that “The ripple effects would be greater… if consumers from all over Japan also engage in sightseeing activities in addition to transportation expenses,” it would benefit other sectors. He also described Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour as the most economically significant musical event in Japan, exceeding Fuji Rock— Japan’s largest music festival— by ¥14 billion ($34 million) (“Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour to Boost Tokyo, Japan’s Economy, Claim Experts.  Here  is  How,”  2024).  However,  in Singapore’s case, the Eras tour brought a $350 million bonus, with a dash of diplomatic tensions.

Singapore was the only nation to host the Eras Tour in Southeast Asia, but it’s not the first time the nation has benefited from hosting a concert. In January of the same year, Singapore alongside many  Southeast  Asian  nations  hosted  the  Coldplay  concerts  which  benefited  the  nations, boosting   Indonesia’s economy by $53.5 million (Dewi, 2024), so it was a huge question as to why the city-state would essentially conduct this deal with Swift. Thai Prime Minister— Srettha Thavisin— first made the claim after hearing from Swift’s concert promoter that the Singaporean Government  had  offered  the  artist a $3 million bonus for each show that she performed in exchange for exclusivity for the nation (Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour Pumped RM1.7 Billion into Singapore’s Tourism Industry, 2024). But the Singapore Prime Minister— Lee Hsien Loong— quickly addressed the matter, stating that the government “negotiated an arrangement to come to Singapore, and to make Singapore the only stop in Southeast Asia” but shot down any rumors surrounding the nominal of the deal itself. Loong also defended the decision “…I don’t see that as being unfriendly” when neighboring nations started sharing their thoughts, with Philippine Legislator Joey Salceda calling the deal “not what good neighbors do” (Ratcliffe, 2024).

So, was the deal all that bad? Well, yes and no. The deal itself can be seen as harmless; however, with the economic benefits Singapore gained, it was inevitable for neighboring Southeast Asian nations to feel like they could have gained the same if not for the presence of the deal itself. Indonesia has also benefited from hosting concerts. Back in November 2023 until January of 2024, the Southeast Asian nations would be the homes of Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres tour, and  from  the  collective  3  months  alone,  the  region  would  benefit  more  than $100 million economically (not limited to tourism). So one could only imagine how economically beneficial it would be for the region if it had the chance to host the Eras Tour.

Nadya Ulyana Ridwan
Nadya Ulyana Ridwan
An 18-year-old student currently majoring in International Relations, Nadya is ambitious to do her part in bettering Indonesia. Participating in multiple student associations and volunteering on many topics, Nadya explores the many ways to contribute to the world.