Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Who wins when you buy a Taylor Swift ticket?

Taylor Swift, of course, as some fascinating figures from a recent Florida concert demonsrate

Tue, Dec 8, 2015, 09:45


You’ll find a fascinating breakdown on who gets what when thousands of people buy tickets to see an artist like Taylor Swift in concert in a recent piece in the Tampa Bay Times. Swift played Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium at Hallowe’en and 56,987 folks paid good money to see her peform. Times’ William R. Levesque got hold of the details – the venue is publicy owned and operated so much of the data was available – and got stuck right into the matter of what cash went where.

Aside from the fact that she’d a very good payday, what’s interesting is something Levesque notes about the show’s promotion. “(The Tampa Sports Authority) made an 11th-hour change to the way the show’s finances were handled, allowing the touring company used by Swift to promote the show. In so doing, the exact tally of the money paid to Swift is no longer a matter of public record.” As things stand, Levesque says the fact that the venue is public and pesky reporters like himself can get their mitts on the financials is something which angers artists. I bet it does. Artists don’t like the general public to know about the stuff behind the curtain. All they want is for fans to keep buying the tickets.

Meanwhile, the venue just wants the fan to buy popcorn, hot dogs, giant sodas and parking spaces because that’s where the money is. On this particular night, $244,626 was made at the food and drink concession stands (around $4 per head), while the stadium’s car parks made $124,798. There is also a fee of $40,784 listed for merchandise, though it looks to me as if this is the fee which Swift’s merchandising team would have paid as a venue fee as opposed to the amount of cash spent on t-shirts and trinkets. An artist like Swift would be making a hell of a lot more than less than a dollar a head at a show of this scale.

There would also be money for the stadium operators from sponsorship, premium suite rental and other bits and pieces, meaning a $843,947 payday split between Florida taxpayers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who use the stadium. Per the Times’ figures, there doesn’t appear to be a direct rental fee, which will come as news to anyone who has had to deal with the GAA over the rental of Croke Park for a live show (a cool million euro a pop is believed to be the going rate on Jones Road)

That $844k is a decent enough return for one night, but the bulk of the cash generated on the night, the $5.8 million in ticket sales, went to the Messina Touring Co. and it’s not clear how much of this ended up in Swift’s handbag. “It would seem unlikely that Swift would agree to take less than the $3.9 million she would have gotten had the authority not made the change” of promoters, so she had a very good Hallowe’en in Florida. When superstar acts come to town, they’re the ones who leave with the most cash in their pocket. No wonder so many promoters see festivals as potentially lucrative cash-cows because they can milk every single aspect of the event for all the cash they can. The acts get paid well, but the promoter can really make out like a bandit with all those extra revenue streams.