“They want nothing more in the world,” said Kearney, who heads Aspen’s economic strategies group. “The pandemic has changed the way people think about what is important to them and what brings them joy.”
Gustavo Coutinho, who had never seen Swift perform live, came up with a $2,000 budget after 10 months of saving. The 25-year-old consultant from Boston spent about $1,500 to attend the two concerts. “I’d pay $3,000 if I had to,” he said.
In the early 2000s, the late economist Alan Kruger proposed the concept of “Rockonomics” to explain the economy through the lens of the music industry. Krueger has often used Swift, who released her debut album at age 16 in 2006, as an example of someone who toyed with strategies that boosted concert and product sales, calling her an “economic genius.”
His disciples agree. “It almost becomes an entire category,” said Carolyn Sloan, who teaches Rock Economics at the University of California, Riverside. “People don’t see a great place to go to a Taylor Swift show. They really want to see him live, and I say that as a fan.
Other artists, including Bruce Springsteen, have proven that fans are willing to pay premium prices for mega live events post-COVID — recession be damned.
Furthermore, Swiftonomics is a crash course in another concept: monopoly. Politicians and attorneys general have renewed their criticism of Ticketmaster, a major player in the live music industry.
Even before last week, Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment Inc. was at the center of a Justice Department antitrust probe into whether the platform was abusing its power, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Live Nation said Ticketmaster is the leader because of the quality of its platform, not its anti-competitive business practices. And Ticketmaster apologized to Swift’s fans and said that it will work on its system in the future. Swift herself said it was “painful” to see the mistakes happen.
Ultimately, the singer is the organizer of the delivery. He chose to play in larger capacity stadiums and added new concerts. Still, there’s a frenzy surrounding his tours. “You often feel that scarcity drives demand,” said Pascal Corti, an economist at the University of Victoria in Canada who studies ticket resale markets.
One of the biggest questions in the broader economy is whether consumers will continue to spend as interest rates and unemployment rise.
Swiftonomics may not respond. It’s an economic microcosm of its own, and fans just rock it.
“I hesitate to read too much into the fact that people are willing to pay too much for Taylor Swift tickets when it comes to the health of the U.S. economy,” said Kearney, Swifty’s parent economist. “I tend to read that ticket demand is almost inelastic for Taylor Swift’s die-hard fans.”
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