‘The Tortured Poets Department’ will expand Taylor Swift’s reach as a businesswoman

Washington CNNTaylor Swift is continuing her lucrative legacy with the release of her 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

Swift commands a fiercely dedicated fan base — one that helps her break streaming records, crashes websites, and sells out major stadiums across the world. Her latest album is expected to draw that same burning enthusiasm from fans, yet again.

It’ll be an extension of her legacy not just as a pop superstar, but also as a businessperson.

Swift proved just how much economic power she wields in 2023. Tickets for her career-defining “Eras” tour sold out almost immediately, fans splurged on merchandise while attending her concerts, the film of her tour broke box office records in its opening weekend, and Swift herself became a billionaire along the way.

Swift achieved remarkable feats that would be impressive for any typical business leader running a Fortune 500 company. She provided an excellent case study of understanding your customers and giving them what they want.

“She’s a powerhouse, business-wise,” Armen Shaomian, an associate professor of sport and entertainment management at the University of South Carolina, told CNN.

Here’s a look at Swift’s booming track record as a businessperson.

The commercially successful ‘Eras’ tour

The Eras tour was massively successful in 2023 and it’ll stretch through the end of this year. StubHub said Swift’s tour “was the biggest” in the ticket company’s two-decade history, outpacing other successful acts in terms of ticket sales.

“Taylor Swift wasn’t just performing; she was rewriting the playbook, leaving a trail of glitter, economic stimuli and friendship bracelets wherever she went,” the company’s year-end report said.

Swift herself hasn’t released official sales figures, but some estimates show the tour is already raking in 10 figures. Pollstar estimated that the tour’s first 60 shows grossed more than $1 billion.

An analysis shared exclusively with CNN last year projected that Swift’s shows in North America alone could bring in more than $2 billion in revenue, making it the highest-grossing tour ever.

Swift’s gravitational pull was so strong that fans were aggressively bidding up ticket prices on the re-sale market. SeatGeek previously told CNN the average resale price of an “Eras” ticket was $1,607, up 741% from her “Reputation” tour in 2018, for which the average resale ticket price was $191.

She is a generous boss, too, awarding $100,000 bonuses to Eras Tour truck drivers during the summer.

The tour itself was like a traveling ball of economic activity, crisscrossing through major American cities as fans descended with cash burning holes through their wallets.

Hotel rooms in cities hosting Eras shows filled up fast, retailers said they got a boost from concertgoers seeking clothes to match the tour’s theme, and a Federal Reserve report even noted how the tour boosted hotel revenue in Philadelphia, according to one business in the survey.

Swift’s business acumen

What really highlights Swift’s business acumen is how the singer capitalized on that burning enthusiasm to drive even more sales. Electrified fans opened their wallets to snap up shirts, sweaters, hats, posters and other kinds of merchandise exhibiting the singer in all her glory.

“The merchandising aspect of the tour was so important because it allowed fans to bring home some of that experience since it’s all about the memories,” Shaomian of the University of South Carolina said.

“Fans were lining up hours before the arena even opened because the merchandise was set up in a different area and they wanted first dibs on buying. Even if only a quarter of those people bought something, that’s easily at least a million dollars a night,” he said.

That’s on top of merchandise available online. From guitar picks to nail gems, Swift gave her ardent fans another reason to spend more, and spend they did.

Swift’s business strategy went beyond the concert stage to the big screen, again capitalizing on the already-feverish hype for the singer and her signature tour.

The singer-songwriter released a film of last year’s shows in mid-October, titled “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.” The film raked in a staggering $96 million in its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, according to movie theater chain AMC. That made it the highest grossing concert film domestically for an opening weekend.

“It took less than 24 hours for the Taylor Swift The Eras Tour concert film to shatter AMC’s US record for the highest ticket-sales revenue during a single day in AMC’s 103-year history,” AMC said at the time.

And what business leader doesn’t benefit from some good publicity?

In addition to countless other news stories, Swift was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2023, an honor usually reserved for changemakers such as Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Pope Francis.

“It feels like the breakthrough moment of my career, happening at 33,” Swift told Time. “And for the first time in my life, I was mentally tough enough to take what comes with that.”