Mar 31, 2023
Taylor Swift Fans Travel Hundreds of Miles to See Her in Concert
(Bloomberg) -- Jennifer Campana rejiggered her kitchen to become a Ticketmaster control room. She and her friends had eight laptops, verified fan codes, credit cards that offered early access, and a mission: scoring tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, the singer’s first in five years.
“It was like NASA or something,” she said of her ticket hunt back in November.
After analyzing fan postings on Reddit, Campana set her sights on Philadelphia: a city with a massive stadium and smaller population than New York or Los Angeles. The public relations executive and her daughter, Madelyn, ended up scoring seats in three states, and on March 18 they attended the tour’s opening weekend in Glendale, Arizona, a 370-mile flight from their Los Angeles home. Jennifer posted her first-ever TikTok video at the concert.
“It feels like you’re there with 70,000 of your best friends,” she said.
Read more: Welcome to ‘Swiftonomics’: What Taylor Swift Reveals About the US Economy
Swifties — as Swift’s devotees are known — are part of trend among concert goers, superfans willing to travel hundreds of miles to see their favorite artists as demand for live events surges now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted. The growth of online ticket sellers, including StubHub and SeatGeek, has allowed fans to scour venues across the country for seats. And even though airfares have also risen, die-hard music lovers aren’t letting that hold them back.
“Now that people are free, for lack of a better term, the vast majority are not letting the expense stand in their way of experiences,” said Jamie Baker, an airlines analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Swift’s tour provides an extreme example of the trend. The pop star, known for hits like Shake It Off, released her tenth studio album, Midnights, in October. Ticketmaster, a division of concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment Inc., saw its systems crash after seats went on sale Nov. 15. Prices shot up into the thousands of dollars. The Senate held a hearing about the snafu in January, during which the company blamed “industrial-scale ticket scalping” fueled by automated “bots.”
The Eras tour includes 52 stops in 20 cities. The star left a few large locales off the list, despite having performed there in prior years, including Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Miami. In some states where Swift decided not to have a concert, fans will have to travel at least 400 miles, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of over 30,000 US cities. Malta, Montana, is the farthest from any concert venue among cities over 1,500 population. Fans there would have to travel 610 miles to see her live.
For some music lovers, the out-of-town shows are a way to also do a little sight-seeing. Los Angeles-based author Tom O’Neill flew last month to see Bruce Springsteen perform in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the cities where tickets were among the cheapest nationally for the artist. O’Neill paid $245 for his seat close to the stage. He went with eight friends, who stayed at two Airbnbs. They toured Tulsa’s new Bob Dylan Center, a museum devoted to the folk-rocker, the following day.
“The entire idea of going with the boys and seeing Tulsa for the first time,” was a big part of the reason for going, he said, adding that he met other people on the plane who were going to the show.
Fans have always traveled to see artists they love. In the pre-internet days, the Grateful Dead sold tickets directly to “Deadheads” who followed them on tour. To this day, fans help finance their trips by selling tie-dyed shirts and vegetarian food in ad-hoc shopping areas that pop up outside the venues.
Swifties are equally creative. Emily Cloud, who saw the singer for the first time over a decade ago in her hometown of Nampa, Idaho, engaged in an unusual online exchange in an effort to catch a show 400 miles from home this summer. After failing to nab tickets on Ticketmaster, the 27-year-old posted a video on TikTok offering to trade seats for the rental of the wedding venue she owns with her family.
“I posted it just as a joke,” said Cloud. “And it blew up pretty much overnight.”
After considering offers from brides-to-be from Los Angeles to Denver, Cloud settled for three tickets in Seattle. Under normal circumstances, the bride would’ve paid $4,000 for the rental, she said.
Campana, who spent $3,400 on three shows with her daughter, is now considering a fourth stop if they can snag seats in Europe. Dates there haven’t yet been announced.
“I will literally go anywhere to see her,” she said.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.