by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
After Tayor Swift’s massive “Eras” tour is packing stadiums to the point her shows are causing earthquakes (even though bad seats are often going for $1,000 or more), Swift isn’t just resuscitating the post-Covid live music industry, she’s threatening to help rescue America’s flagging theater business.
It was recently announced that she struck a deal with AMC theaters to show a three-hour concert film from her smash tour for the millions of people who couldn’t get tickets. It starts showing in October, AMC is charging higher ticket prices than normal — which are already absurd — and the presale figures for the movie tickets are already breaking records. Based on some back-of-the-envelope math gleaned from some speculative news reports, Swift might make something close to half a billion dollars off this tour and all the related revenue. …
… Still, someone who truly, deeply cares about the state of popular music has to stand athwart Taylor Swift, yelling “what is this @#?!,” and it might as well be an intellectually dyspeptic Gen X guy with nothing to lose.
To be clear, I’m not so hostile or out of touch that I don’t get important aspects of her appeal. I think she’s worth paying attention to because something about Swift resonates at the frequency of America. But I’m genuinely not sure her popularity is a testament to her talent, and I can’t think of another major post-WWII music figure I’m honestly this conflicted about estimating their gifts. Swift is a phenomenal marketer, she works very hard, and from what I can tell, almost no one at her level cares about her fans and reaching out to them personally the way Swift does. …
… [T]he cultural trends that emerged from the ’70s finally produced an artist almost wholly dedicated to “Me Music.” This finally brings me to my actual gripe, the specifics of why and how her music sucks: It’s utterly defined by self-obsession rather than introspection.