Taylor Swift is a capitalist. That’s where her ticketing debacle starts.

In 2004, Scott Borchetta received a package from a young country artist looking for a publishing deal. Along with the song demos, “the Abercrombie and Fitch catalog was there,” Borchetta recalled in an interview with Inc. magazine. “And I’m like, well, you don’t see that every day.”

Borchetta is the music director credited with discovering one of the greatest music artists of all time. But before she even released her first single, Swift was modeling for a preppy clothing brand. In the catalog, she bookmarked a picture of herself holding a guitar and wiping her eye with a tissue (probably a nod to her song “Teardrops on My Guitar,” which would be released a few years later). “She was a very attractive girl,” Borchetta told Inc., noting that she looked older than her 14 years and therefore had a chance to break into the country music market.

Make it work. Today, with seemingly countless Swift fans left without tickets to an upcoming tour that will showcase her various “eras” — from the curly-haired, Southern-accented Taylor to the rainbow-gay Pride Taylor — we’re dealing with the least fun version of Swift. also: Capitalist Taylor. So far, most of the outrage has fallen on Ticketmaster, the monopolistic concert and ticketing conglomerate, while Swift has received comparatively less criticism, perhaps because of the seemingly intimate fan relationship she’s cultivated throughout her career. But as the A&F catalog showed all those years ago, Swift has always cultivated brand synergy. Fans who finally noticed seem heartbroken.

Last month, Cosmopolitan hailed Swift as “Scrooge McDuck – Rich,” citing a rating that put her ahead ofMidnight sun net worth $570 million. Her 2018 stadium tour for Reputation is the most profitable US tour. In 2019, she signed a multi-year deal with Capital One, shortly before its release Lover. Her single “ME!” soundtracked a commercial for a 4% cash back card, and Capital One cardholders had the privilege of purchasing a “one-of-a-kind Taylor Swift T-shirt” that came with the digital version of the album.

For the “Eras” tour, one way to increase your chances of getting a pre-sale entry code for The Hunger Games was to buy a lot of Swift merchandise (for example: a wall clock interface designed to hang four Midnight sun CDs sold separately). She also promised a special “Eras” tour presale for Capital One cardholders, which led to several pieces of service journalism urging Swifties to take out a line of credit.

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Not that it might have helped them much. The idea was that both presales would give dedicated fans a chance to buy tickets before the general public (and scalpers too). It would be a mistake to assume that the process of logging into Ticketmaster at the scheduled time with your code in hand would allow you to calmly exchange money for goods and services – after all, this was Swift’s first tour in four years. But the process was decidedly torturous. Fans experienced a website unable to accommodate traffic and hours-long wait times in the digital queue.

Before the Capital One presale, a few friends and I carefully planned how much we would pay for tickets and even made backup plans for what we would do if we couldn’t get enough for everyone in our group. When we finally got to the screen showing us the stadium seating arrangement, we were only offered two “Karma is My Boyfriend” packages for $755 each, well out of our price range. (Why were the packages a few hundred dollars better than regular floor seats? They supposedly came with extras like VIP stadium entrance, an “Eras” tour bag, and “VIP crowd-free shopping.”) Not that they could anyway bought; within moments one of them disappeared from the screen. But they may have left the airwaves before the light from the computer could even reach our eyes—a colleague reported seeing tons of available tickets, only to click for 45 minutes only to find out over and over again that his choice was unavailable. And there wouldn’t be, as we were promised, an opportunity to try selling to the general public again – Ticketmaster had to cancel it due to a lack of inventory.

Ticketmaster, which is essentially the only way to buy tickets for many concerts and sporting events at major venues, was the villain of the whole debacle, everyone decided. “Trying to fight Ticketmaster in 2022 is trying to wage war against God,” wrote Kelsey McKinney in Defector. Ron Knox noted in Slate that the mess has reignited calls from politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to break up Ticketmaster’s monopoly — and may even radicalize Swifties themselves.

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Slowly, it seemed to dawn on fans just how much Swift alone even benefited from this miserable ticketing experience. The viral TikTok shows a woman dejectedly sitting in her car beneath text declaring that the entire debacle was “Taylor’s capitalist circus on full display…I’m going to say that Taylor has officially rejected me.” In the New Republic, Timothy Noah also assigns “blame” to Swift in two ways. In fact, it is astonishingly popular. It sold 2 million tickets on Tuesday, Noah writes — “more than any previous band — Enrico Caruso, Rudy Vallee, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Michael Jackson — sold in a single day.” Then there is the issue of dynamic pricing. Swift, like many artists, agreed to allow Ticketmaster to raise seat prices in response to demand. This isn’t necessarily as bad as it sounds, Noah reasons: Would you rather Stubhub raise your price or Swift herself? I mean, sure, run me over, Taylor. And if tickets were cheaper, that might be a public good, but it would still leave the fundamental problem: there would be even more demand for them, and therefore fewer of them.

On Friday, Swift released a statement on Instagram saying that she was “trying to figure out how we can make this situation better in the future” and that she was happy that 2.4 million people got tickets, “but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they’ve gone through multiple bear attacks to get them.” Ultimately, the number of Swift tickets available in this world is limited by how long she’s willing to stand in front of a crowd and sing. She can i just imagine that she might be sitting among her riches and at some point feel a little exhausted by the sheer number of people who are angrily protesting that they won’t be able to see her this spring. The Beatles quit touring after six years; Swift has been doing it for longer like twice as much. She could quit and be justified. And she did some commendable things over the years, for example with its power to help artists get some money when their songs are streamed during Apple Music’s free trial, as David Turner described in Slate in 2018.

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But it’s still the fans she’s making money off of, and for some of us, being asked to pay hundreds of dollars to see her live (if we’re very lucky!) seems disorienting, especially if can our parasocial relationships with her go so deep. . My first encounter with Swift’s music was when I was 16 years old. A friend from summer camp sent me a CD of medleys by other bands like the Jonas Brothers — and one Taylor Swift song, “Stay Beautiful,” in which he hopes love ends with her but wishes him well even if it does. don’t do it. It was just the text better like everything else artists of my age offered me. I looked at her and was hooked.

I can accept that over the next decade and more this woman just became too popular to see her tour now. I understand that she should earn money in return for her work. And Swift certainly didn’t invent the idea of ​​being a spokesperson for goods and services. But still, it’s kind of lousy to turn poetry around Midnight sunwhile Capitalist Taylor takes the opportunity to try and sell me a credit card and another shirt.

This summer I received an email from Taylor Nation, Swift’s company. He didn’t announce new music or alert me to tour dates. He informed me about the Memorial Day brand sale. Yes, my favorite poet was spamming me: If I bought two towels, I could get 10 percent off.

“It goes without saying that I am extremely protective of my fans,” she said in a statement on Friday. In fact, I think we can say it isn’t. And that’s okay. It’s just a fun business. I was never personally.


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