Why People Spend Thousands on Taylor Swift Tickets, Per Economics

  • People’s willingness to pay huge amounts for Taylor Swift tickets defies the current economy. 
  • I also got swept up by the Eras Tour hype.
  • I asked an economist and fellow Swiftie why — and it does actually makes sense.

If we’re in a “vibecession,” it seems Swifties didn’t get the memo. 

While we may not heading for an actual recession after all, there’s a lot of stuff that we can’t really go without that’s getting more expensive. Basics like food, housing, and electricity. And that’s making everyone feel like the economy is struggling, even if in reality it’s not that bad.

So when tickets to Taylor Swift’s US tour went on sale last year, I wasn’t expecting the astronomical demand to basically break the internet.

Desperate fans who missed out were paying extortionate amounts of money for second-hand tickets, which were being sold at up to a 4,000% markup. Others drained their bank accounts to attend as many shows as they could. Insider reported that at least two people spent $20,000 on the Eras tour, and that doesn’t factor in the elaborate outfits that are pretty much mandatory. 

After months of watching all this play out on social media, the European dates for the Eras tour dropped, and I suddenly had to decide what I was willing to pay for a ticket, if I could even access one. And remember what I said about people being terrified of an impending recession that may not exist? Hi, it’s me, I’m the problem.

How is it possible that I was considering spending the equivalent of a weekend in Paris on a single show? I’m not even that big a fan (comparatively). Part of it had to be the osmosis marketing of the impossibly smart TikTok algorithm, but surely there was more to it than that?

To find out — and try and validate my questionable financial choices — I spoke to a fellow Swiftie: Professor Brett House, who teaches economics at Columbia Business School.

He told me that actually, our willingness to pay so much money for a concert makes sense, and is down to three key factors:

1. During COVID-19 shutdowns, some people saved way more money than they otherwise might have. This is partly because they were spending less, and partly because of the government’s response to keep the economy healthy, like stimulus checks.

2. As we were stuck at home, what we were spending on was also mostly goods (which is economy-speak for “stuff”) and as the world opened back up we pivoted to prioritizing spending on experiences rather than products. This is post-pandemic specific lopsidedness though, which House thinks will even out eventually.

3. Basic supply and demand: No artist can put on an unlimited number of shows. When they get to a certain level of fame, it’s impossible to accommodate every fan, and financially speaking they may be wise not to — the more scarce something is, the higher it can be priced. It’s Econ 101, and no one’s above that, not even Taylor Swift.

And yes: I did manage to get a ticket.

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