Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ Tour Is a Flop: Half-Filled Stadiums, Thousands of Unsold Seats, 0 Sellouts

Thousands of seats remain unsold for Taylor Swift's upcoming show at Gillette Stadium.

Thousands of seats remain unsold for Taylor Swift’s upcoming show at Gillette Stadium.

Thousands of unsold seats across dozens of venues.  No sellouts.  Pissed-off fans and obscenely high ticket prices.  Welcome to Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ Tour.

It was a cocky game plan that may be blowing up in Taylor Swift’s face.  After choking inventory and demanding sky-high ticket prices, it now looks like die-hard ‘Swifties’ aren’t biting.

And neither are their parents.

According to a quick search this morning, not one of Taylor Swift’s upcoming ‘Reputation’ tour dates is sold out.  In total, the singer has scheduled 33 dates in the North America in 2018.  Most of those venues have massive inventory, with entire sections sometimes completely unsold.

The gaping availability suggests a serious miscalculation of what Swift fans were willing to pay.  Late last year, team Taylor initiated a bullish sales strategy that involved extremely-high ticket prices and lots of hoops for fans to jump through.  That was part of a plan to outsmart scalpers, who typically buy low and sell high — that is, unless the tickets are too expensive to begin with.

Sounded like a smart idea.  But now, massive levels of unsold inventory suggest that ticket prices should have been lower.  By extremely stark contrast, Taylor Swift’s last tour was sold out within minutes.  ‘Reputation’ tour tickets have been on sale since December 13th.

The result also suggests a serious misfire on Swift’s ‘Verified Fan’ program.

That program gave priority access to certain Taylor Swift fans.  But first, those fans were required to build up points — oftentimes by purchasing Taylor Swift products.  That included purchases of Swift’s latest album, which theoretically gave fans priority access.

Once tickets actually went on sale, however, that prioritization seemed spotty.  Some ‘prioritized’ fans got lucky, but many others were left waiting.  Most were given ‘special access’ to high-priced tickets, while others were forced into the general sales bucket a few days later.

Of course, none of that went over well with fans — or their parents.  The end result may be that Taylor’s fans are saying ‘no thanks’.

The result: half-filled stadiums (or worse).

The amount of empty seats is actually pretty shocking in some venues.  Here’s what one of two dates scheduled for Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts looked like on Tuesday morning (Foxborough is just outside of Boston; it’s where the Patriots play).

Nearly every section has endless availability.  And high-priced, front-of-stage seats are moving slowly.

A similar situation exists in other major cities.

Here’s what the first of a two-date stint in Chicago looks like.  Most sections are available, with thousands of open seats and high prices.

Even the marquee Rose Bowl in Pasadena is showing huge unsold sections.  Swift is planning two, back-to-back dates in the coveted stadium, where high-priced tickets usually go quickly.

Not this time: here’s what one of the shows currently looks like.

Earlier, Taylor Swift’s team was popping the champagne on a massive success.

After intense blowback from ‘Swifties’ over the ‘Verified Fan’ program, ‘Team Taylor’ has remained cocky and resolute.  In comments to Billboard, several Swift stakeholders have pointed to a slow-sell strategy that involves high-priced tickets.  “We’d like to sell the last ticket to her concert when she takes the stage each night,” Ticketmaster executive VP and head of music David Marcus said.

“We’re not trying to sell all of her tickets in one minute; we’re trying to figure out how to sell tickets in a more modern way.”

Now, the big question is whether that ambitious game plan is working.  Or, creating a giant flop.

46 Responses

    • Avatar
      Amityvillain

      It’s a facade, look at the ticket sale numbers, not the dollar amount. the numbers are from the high ticket prices, not the amount of tickets sold, which in turns makes her look as if she’s still as popular as 5 years ago; her team figured out how to make money on a sinking ship. They can make the same dollar amount selling half the tickets at a huge venue, whereas someone else can make the same amount selling ALL the tickets at a huge venue, but you have to keep an eye on the future. If she doesn’t fill the seats this tour, imagine the next tour, and then the ticket prices on that tour with even fewer people.

      • Avatar
        Matt

        Its funny reading some of these comments now that the tour has started and stadiums are filled (far from the doomsday scenario of half filled stadiums and no sell outs). There’s been several shows now in the western US and Chicago and I’m looking at both ticket sales and boxoffice gross and seeing high numbers for both. Repeated Headlines like “venue concert attendance record” “venue boxoffice record” “venue record for a solo artist” “attendance record for a female artist” over and over and over again. Perhaps bitcoin will hit $100,000

  1. Avatar
    Dave Brooks

    No one in the music industry takes Paul Resnikoff or DMN seriously.

  2. Avatar
    Lob Befsetz

    Taylor Swift forgot to make a HIT!

    And you can’t coast off your fumes in 2018. Hence the outspoken debacle known as ‘REPUTATION!’

    Meanwhile Spotify is dominating by erstwhile savvy rappers who are looking forward not smashing you over the schnaz with the past.

    Jay-Z thought he could fill seats by SUING DIGITAL MUSIC NEWS! HUH?

    But you think big stadium tours are IT! That’s the problem with Baby Boomers. They’ll go to Desert Trip, but still don’t realize the solo show is DONE!

    R.I.P. Taylor Swift

    • Avatar
      Earl Harbes

      for 1989 Miss Swift filled the Staple Center 5 times for 86,000 people, in the first 5 days of ticket sales for “Reputation” she sold 115,000 tickets to the Rose Bowl, at prices that are little closer to resale prices, and it does not take place for 5 months. They sold $118,000,000 worth of tickets the first 5 days, and Billboard is projecting it to bring in between $450,000,000 and $500,000,000.

    • Avatar
      BobbyZ

      That got me laughing hard. Thanks for spoofing mr mean.
      Haha

    • Avatar
      Reyna

      The new Taylor is trying to call you to say that she just broke the record for the highest grossing female North American tour in history with it already hitting $203 million with more than 10 shows to go…… so much for a flop tour huh?

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      Omg! That’s so on point!
      The old Taylor’s actually DEAD!! ?

  3. Avatar
    ticketmaven

    This article does nothing but show a gross misunderstanding of how superstars both price and sell tickets in this day and age. If these shows were sold out already it would mean they have priced them all wrong and left millions on the table. No superstar wants their shows sold out this far in advance. Dynamic pricing, platinum ticketing and holding back on even opening up whole sections until much later in the sales cycle are all the norm. This will be one of the highest grossing tours of all time. Please Paul, dial back the tabloid style psuedo journalism and present helpful news to the music business. You’re smarter than this. Why not make 2018 the year that you get a little classier?

  4. Avatar
    Paul Resnikoff

    Interesting debate to say the least. I guess the core question here is whether this ‘slow sell’ approach maximizes revenues or not. It’s a pretty complex model here, and currently the one thing everyone can agree on is that there are tons of open seats. Jay-Z’s approach to outsmarting scalpers obviously didn’t pan out so well — the core demand has to be there.

    Back to Taylor: Christmas gifting period is obviously over; also this model takes out the flashy, ‘sold out!’ headline that can drive greater interest and demand.

    • Avatar
      Dave Brooks

      Paul, I sent you the sales data proving Jay Z made millions per date on his tour and you chose to ignore it. When shown proof you are wrong, you make up lame excuses. Things you report of demonstrably false. Get a clue.

      • Avatar
        Everywhere + Nowhere

        Dave Brooks of Billboard?

        Live Nation is calling you. They need another blowjob.

    • Avatar
      Paul Resnikoff

      Thanks for your concern Dudley. But we didn’t get sued. Just threatened with baseless threats based on absolutely false legal claims. There’s a big difference, and I hope that the state bars of both New York and Connecticut will take a closer look at attorneys like Andrew Kupinse of Cummings & Lockwood LLC. Attorneys like him are abusing the law, our legal system and their power as attorneys, and should be censured.

      https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2017/11/30/jay-z-lawyers-threats-cowards/

  5. Avatar
    koolz

    good… Taylor Swift is untalented .. Her music is totally awful. Make space for real musicians now.
    I swear I can’t find 1 good song from her.
    Maybe this pathetic Music Industry is in for a change, maybe real, good music will prevail.

    • Avatar
      Blobbo

      Please don’t try to tell me she’s less talented than Chance the Crapper, because that isn’t the case.

    • Avatar
      Thai

      Totally agreed. Man, how many backup singers does she needs to sing or lipsynced live? Last I checked like eight backup singers in the 1989 Tour on youtube. I can hear voice but she was not singing to into mic and fans brought it.

  6. Avatar
    Blobbo

    People can defend her all they want. Fact is, diehard fans who played the game overpaid for tickets that were then dumped on the general audience for 50% less weeks later.

    Any organization that makes that happen should be fired. Swift better do a giant triage operation immediately, or this Reputation is going to be hilariously ironically titled, as her reputation goes down in flames.

  7. Avatar
    Lob Befsetz

    RE: Taylor Ticket Sales

    They blew it.

    Show business is about perception, not reality. And the perception is that Taylor Swift is a self-satisfied performer who needs to be the biggest and the baddest and is not.

    You don’t want to be able to get a ticket.

    If I hear one more promoter talk about slow ticketing I’m gonna puke. This is the end game of what they’ve created, a world with no transparency where the secondary market scoops up too many profits and the greedy acts hide behind the ticketing company. You like the money, you want to live the lifestyle you flaunt all over the internet, why can’t you admit it? Instead of blaming Ticketmaster for fees, instead of bitching about the brokers, either go paperless or charge what the tickets are worth.

    But you don’t want to do this. You want to appear to be a friend of the consumer while at the same time ripping them off. Tell me how that’s gonna work again?

    So, to solve this problem, we’ve got the slow-ticketing phenomenon. Otherwise called flex-pricing. Trying to extract the most money from the customer, get the highest gross. But this has really only worked for the Stones, who are running on fumes playing oldies to a crowd that’s afraid Keith Richards is gonna die, whereas Taylor Swift is not yet a heritage act, she’s selling new music, she needs people to believe she’s happening, the hottest act in the business, but when you can buy tickets for her show at the last minute is she?

    Of course she’s not.

    Paul McCartney used to buy independent radio promotion. I don’t care who you are, how big you are, you’re starting over with every record. And the thing about the Stones… They never sold that many records to begin with, they’re kinda like the Dead, sui generis, other than those two it’s a game of…

    What have you done for me lately.

    And Taylor Swift hasn’t done much.

    She’s continuing to feud with the world, only this time her posse has abandoned her.

    And other than her initial single, which tried to evidence a sense of humor but didn’t, because she has none, every subsequent release went straight to the dumper. Live by the hit, die by the hit.

    But they were doubling-down before the album even came out. With this insane boost phenomenon. Since you’re gonna be unable to get a ticket, you’re gonna jump through hoops to get one. Only in this case, she’s playing stadiums and that’s a lot of tickets, and ticketing is so obtuse that many of the best tickets never hit the general marketplace, they’re spoken for. Taylor Swift thought the rules didn’t apply to her, that she could set her own course.

    But no, the rules apply to everybody. Even Adele, who stayed off streaming and sold a lot of tickets but became irrelevant to everybody who wasn’t at the show.

    They’ve been lying about attendance and grosses since the Roman era, before that. Which is why you buy extra tickets to lay off on Craigslist or StubHub and then find out you can’t get rid of them. THE SHOW WAS NEVER SOLD OUT TO BEGIN WITH! But only insiders know this. You read ads congratulating the act on going clean, but if you think those ads are vetted by their displayers, you probably haven’t gotten a spam e-mail or junk phone call today. There’s no law about this, not one being enforced.

    But if you think you can’t get a ticket, you’re gonna rush and buy one.

    But if you think you can…

    You’re gonna wait for the price to drop.

    Come on, this ain’t Barbra Streisand. Taylor Swift is appealing to a very young generation, ever go to the grocery store with them? They’ve got to have it right now, and if they don’t they oftentimes forget about it. This strategy was not the right one for Swift.

    Then again, it’s all being made up in the aftermath.

    They expected tickets to sell better. This slow-ticketing thing is just an excuse. An explanation. And if you’re buying it…

    Forget “Billboard” and the other elements of the music-industrial complex being bullied into printing falsehoods.

    The story is Taylor Swift ain’t that damn hot, and it’s her own damn fault.

    It doesn’t matter how much money she rakes in, unless you think money is everything, the Dixie Chicks sold out arenas before they were dead. Then again, those tickets were all sold before Natalie Maines attacked George Bush.

    All these pop acts that have failed, they don’t understand the game. They stepped up to the plate and barely bunted. Whereas the rappers realized if one track fails, you just line up another, they test tracks out with mixtapes, they understand the culture, but Taylor Swift does not.

    Your image is not rehabilitated in the press, but in the hearts and minds of your audience. Swift made an album for the inside, not her fans, she lost them. Look at Gaga, she hasn’t had a hit for eons, but she’s decided to get out of the game, work with Tony Bennett. Even John Mayer got out of the hit game. But Taylor Swift has to win at everything. And people hate people like this. As Eric Clapton said…”It can’t always be up – for anybody.” (http://rol.st/2AlulPJ)

    So Clapton broke up the band, went to work with Delaney & Bonnie. Made a solo record, formed the Dominos, did acoustic work. He didn’t follow trends, he went on his own hejira, and his hard core stuck with him and the penumbra waxed and waned depending upon whether he hit pay dirt.

    That’s a musician.

    But Taylor Swift is too busy being a celebrity.

    But we’ve got the press tsunami, talking about sales in an era of streaming, all kinds of facts, but deep in their hearts the fans know…

    There’s something off.

    Taylor could admit this. Blow out the shows at cheap prices. Give back. Create new music only for her fans, forget about the album cycle.

    But she can’t. Because she had a plan. Which needs to be stuck to.

    “Reputation” will come and go. You’ll hear varying opinions.

    But one thing’s for sure. In show business your image is everything, perception trumps reality. You want people to PERCEIVE you’re the biggest and the brightest star, that’s the manipulation your team is in service to, not your gross, this ain’t Wall Street, this is closer to Main Street. This is bedrooms, this is people, this is soul-fulfillment. Who cares if you make an extra hundred million, it doesn’t change the songs, it doesn’t change what they mean to people.

    They don’t teach this in books. There’s no school. Which is why the music business constantly repopulates with new people, usually uneducated, scrappers who do it in a new way and have their finger on the pulse.

    A great manager is the quarterback who protects the act at all costs. When done right management is forever, the act should be able to tour until it dies.

    But this requires constant adjustment, and being a slave to the audience, not the bank.

    Because the audience decides whether or not to give you their money.

    And it’s very hard to quantify their whims.

    But one thing’s for sure, if they can’t get in…

    THEY WANNA GO!

    • Avatar
      eharbes

      Miss Swift in May and the first 2 days of June (the only time the figures are in for) played 9 concerts, had 503,160 fans and grossed $68,648,703, I would not call that a failure. Her album did not go to streaming for 3 weeks it had 1.45 million sales by then.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      A brilliant summation of the facts. As a die hard fan of hers I realised at the Wembley stadium a month ago that she was in her way out. Reputation was, as your article suggested, Swift trading in her reputation. The stadium size did not suit her act which was about humanity and compassion and not hubris which is all that came across from two hours of totally non descript music blaring out from speakers whilst I could barely see a diminutive Swift. What a pity she could not have stuck with the country theme light as epitomized by Fearless. In the end I guess the buck and fear got to her.

    • Avatar
      JONATHAN SLESS

      A brilliant summation of the facts. As a die hard fan of hers I realised at the Wembley stadium a month ago that she was in her way out. Reputation was, as your article suggested, Swift trading in her reputation. The stadium size did not suit her act which was about humanity and compassion and not hubris which is all that came across from two hours of totally non descript music blaring out from speakers whilst I could barely see a diminutive Swift. What a pity she could not have stuck with the country theme light as epitomized by Fearless. In the end I guess the buck and fear got to her.

    • Avatar
      Bobby

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more venomous character assassination than good ole Bob circling back 2 days later to spew some more bile. What a small, petty mean little man. Taylor is everything you are not. She’s tall, thin, blue eyed, with white teeth and voluminous hair. Look in the mirror Bob. She is smart and savvy and you are only jealous of everything about her, especially her heritage. It must suck to be you. Get a life, man.

  8. Avatar
    Hippydog

    I just listened to a Freakonomics Podcast that spent the entire ep going over the problems with ticket prices and scalpers..
    I looks like she listened to the same podcast ? as what she is doing will minimize the scalper take and maximize her profit.

  9. Avatar
    Anon

    So, if you actually click on those seats you’ll see that they are being resold by sellers. Nice that you use a story from the WWN, sorry the New York Post, which cites a Twitter member (who doesn’t even used his/her real name) as the source of information.

    • Avatar
      anon

      This did not age beautifully……looks like your comment is a flop

  10. Avatar
    Don

    Sooo… few shows are done now and guess what? All SOLD OUT! So stop posting things like this, Miss Swift is really smart and knows what she is doing

  11. Avatar
    Anonymous

    Look at the box office numbers now the slow ticketing model works

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      Yup all the shows sell their last tickets in the hours before the show instead of having the bots by them all at once

  12. Avatar
    Anonymous

    All her shows have sold out so far on the tour. She has grossed over $100,000,000 with only 11 shows. You called her a flop, yet the Reputation Stadium Tour is set to become the highest grossing female tour of all time. You were wrong.

  13. Avatar
    Jermaine

    LOL! You got us laugh! Looks what happen all her shows so far are sold out! You like to write about hating on Taylor with no proper basis but you cannot write about DRAKE’s flopping tour right now and even cancelled most of the dates due to flopping.

  14. Avatar
    You're full of bullshit

    Lmfao. This tour is the highest selling tour of North America. And its also the second highest selling tour for a female. Don’t know what type of crack you were on when you wrote this.

  15. Avatar
    Digital Music Flop

    This article didn’t age well ?