Yesterday, Taylor Swift added seven new dates to her massive Reputation tour, which storms stadiums across North America and the United Kingdom this summer. Normally, that would be a cause for celebration — it’s too bad her tickets are selling miserably.
Late on New Year’s Day, a New York Post article surfaced with the gloriously ominous headline, “Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ tour shaping up to be a disaster.” The story cited lethargic sales — the upcoming trek has yet to produce a single sellout — and jaw-dropping markups from the superstar’s 1989 tour, which sold out in minutes. One industry insider bemoaned the figures as a “mega disappointment,” and diehard Swifties have repeatedly expressed their disdain for “Taylor Swift Tix,” the Ticketmaster-assisted program that encouraged fans to shell out tons of cash on her latest album in order to enhance their position in the ticketing queue.
As with all Swift-related doomsday prophecies, the Post failed to tell the whole story. In a Jan. 2 Billboard article, Dave Brooks noted that by jacking up her ticket prices, Swift can keep her tickets on the primary market right up until showtime, thus thwarting scalpers and generating monstrous revenue at each date. Swift’s team is banking on the old adage, “slow and steady wins the race,” and if all goes according to plan over the next several months, the “Shake it Off” singer stands to have one of the highest-grossing tours of all time, negative forecasts be damned.
That all amounts to a bunch of pleasant lip service from industry folk who get paid to spew pleasant lip service. But there’s a simpler explanation: Maybe Swift’s ticket sales are bombing because her fans can no longer relate to her.
Put your pitchforks down. I know darn well that Reputation was the bestselling album of 2017, and in no conceivable way can an album that sold nearly 2 million copies in less than two months be considered a failure. But that figure doesn’t exist inside a vacuum. Swift’s latest album sold virtually the same amount as 1989 in its opening frame, but it plummeted 79 percent in its second week, compared to 1989’s 69 percent fall. Reputation dropped another 43 percent in its third week, while 1989 only dipped 22 percent. And while both albums became the biggest sellers of their respective years in roughly the same timeframe, 1989 ended 2014 with 3.66 million copies sold — nearly double that of Reputation.