Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is on track to become the biggest in concert history, potentially the first to gross $1 billion and breaking the record for global concert tours currently held by Elton John.
A deep dive by The Wall Street Journal on Taylor Swift’s earnings during her Eras Tour shows the makings of the biggest global concert tour in history, with the potential to gross over $1 billion. That milestone would see Swift break the record for such tours currently held by Elton John, setting a new standard for show grosses, concert-industry revenues — and possibly an era of even higher ticket prices.
Music executives have speculated how much Taylor Swift’s tour has earned for months. In an unorthodox move for the industry, Swift is not reporting her nightly grosses after each show to Billboard Boxscore and instead plans to report them later, according to Billboard’s senior director of live music and touring, Dave Brooks. That decision has led to many questions about how much the superstar is making and how those numbers might shift expectations for other artists.
Over the past week, Swift announced dozens more international dates for her tour that will see her hitting South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Her original 52-date US leg of the tour ends in August, after which she’ll perform another 54 shows overseas — bringing her total to 106 concerts by next summer. And she may still add more dates.
Swift’s incredible touring success comes amid a market boom for arena and stadium shows from major players like Beyonce and Madonna. Per-show concert grosses for blockbuster tours “are higher than they’ve ever been,” says Brooks, with higher prices for general-admission tickets, aisle seats, and VIP packages, partly to help offset a significant cost leap.
But despite complaining about prices, concertgoers continue to cough up the dough to see their favorite big-name artists perform, which boosts industry revenues that are increasingly concentrated in shows only by the world’s biggest artists. That’s further evidenced by smaller performances in clubs, theaters, and music festivals struggling to cover increasing costs. In the case of Swift’s fans, the biggest concern isn’t ticket prices but securing the highly-sought after tickets in the first place.
“What we’re seeing on this particular Taylor tour is almost like a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon,” says Jarred Arfa, Billy Joel’s co-agent and chief operating officer of Artist Group International. “It’s pretty astonishing.”
WSJ’s analysis of Swift’s Eras Tour is based on conversations with high-ranking concert executives, examining how much revenue her shows generate in ticket sales versus how much she’s earning in take-home profit. The music industry tracks superstar concert tours via gross concert-ticket revenue figures provided by artists. These figures are used each year to rank successful tours.
Elton John holds the record for the highest-grossing global tour with his ongoing Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, which began in 2018 and will end in July. That tour has raked in over $887 million, surpassing prior record-holder Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour from 2017 to 2019, which brought in $776 million.
In December, Billboard estimated that Swift’s 52-date US leg would gross around $590 million with average ticket prices of $215. But with Swift performing 106 shows worldwide, she may cross that record-breaking $1 billion mark.
However, top tickets in the US tend to cost 20-30% more than elsewhere, making the US the most lucrative touring market. Thus, Swift’s 54 international shows aren’t worth as much as her American shows, but some venues overseas are larger and allow for more concertgoers and revenue.
Even the naysayers estimate that Swift will earn between $700 million to $900 million, far eclipsing her previous stadium tour in 2018, which grossed around $345 million across 53 shows, with an average ticket price of $119. That said, revenues and profits are different beasts; some executives estimate Swift is taking home 40% to 60% of the estimated $10 million average per-show gross, while others surmise that figure is probably less than 50%.