Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour on Track to Sell $590M in Tickets. Here’s Where That Money Goes
When Taylor Swift sells the remaining 170,000 tickets for her 52-date Eras tour later this month, the U.S. trek will have generated $591 million in sales, Billboard estimates. The average ticket price is $215, according to concert business sources.
This total will make Swift the highest-grossing female touring artist of all time, according to the Billboard Boxscore chart, topping current title holder Madonna whose Sticky & Sweet Tour (of 2008 and 2009) currently holds the No. 1 slot with a gross of $407 million. Swift’s U.S. tour will also put her in fourth place on the all-time Top Tours chart, which is currently led by Ed Sheeran, whose 2017-2019 Divide shows grossed a total of $776.2 million.
Normally with a tour of this scale, artists share some revenue with a promoter and an agent. In this case, Swift will presumably keep a higher share of revenue, because she’s not represented by one of the major booking agencies and because independent promoter Louis Messina is booking the entire tour and providing some of the services an agency normally would.
Other companies involved in the tour won’t do as well as they normally do, either. Ticketmaster and SeatGeek, which handled sales for the tour, normally allow ticket buyers to sell tickets on their secondary markets and take a percentage of that revenue. (Ticketmaster handled sales for 47 shows, while SeatGeek sold seats for the remaining five.)
But Swift would not allow the companies who handled primary ticket sales to also sell secondary market tickets. As well, Swift asked Ticketmaster to help make sure tickets went to fans, rather than scalpers, and the company says it used its Verified Fan technology to reduce the number of tickets on resale sites by 75%.
That’s an expensive decision. Ticketmaster makes a much higher margin on resale tickets than primary tickets, since it keeps all of the fees it charges — typically 10% of the sale price for the seller and another 20% for the buyer. The company still charges a 25% service fee for all primary ticket sales. However, it only keeps a small percentage of that money, $3.50 to $5 per ticket, which for this tour will come out to about $7.6 million to $10.8 million.
The rest of the fees normally go to venues and promoters. (Ticketmaster, like most ticketing companies, also charges 2.75% for credit card processing, of which it keeps about 10% and pays the rest to credit card companies. The Eras tour generated approximately $13.8 million in these fees, Billboard estimates.) All told, by the time Ticketmaster sells the remaining 170,000 tickets, the company’s total revenue will add up to between $9 million and $12.9 million.
Ticketmaster’s efforts to fight scalpers means that relatively few tickets wound up on the secondary market – but the ones that did are expensive. A month after the presale, on Dec. 14, the average resale ticket price was $1,425, according to TiqIQ, which tracks secondary ticket sales across multiple marketplaces.
TiqIQ estimates that about 1,100 resale tickets are available per show, out of an average of about 50,000. At an average price of $1,425, that would work out to about $1.6 million worth of tickets per show on the secondary market. Assuming that Ticketmaster would have captured about 15%–20% of those purchases, based on 2018 estimates by the United States Government Accountability Office, that means that the company could have brought in an additional $12.5 million to $16.4 million in revenue, of which Ticketmaster would have kept $3.8 million to $5 million in fees, if Swift had allowed the company to sell tickets on its own secondary market.
SeatGeek, which has a 12% share of the secondary market according to its April earnings report, agreed to turn off resale for the five shows it ticketed on the tour, but not the 47 shows sold by Ticketmaster. (Ticketmaster blocked secondary sales for the SeatGeek shows.) That means SeatGeek could make about $9 million from the Ticketmaster shows it lists on its secondary market, although it missed out on about $960,000 in revenue for not allowing secondary sales on the five shows for which it initially sold tickets.
Working with Swift has benefits beyond the financial, of course. In addition to the prestige of working with an artist of that stature — and enduring the embarrassment of the flubs around the Nov. 15 presale — Ticketmaster will presumably see an increase in app downloads and usage of its digital ticket platform, which has been a priority for the company.