Sources now tell Billboard each show on the tour is forecast to sell between $7.5 million and $10 million worth of tickets. Couple that with six shows in Europe and five shows in Australia and New Zealand, and Swift is looking at earning anywhere between $390 million and $510 million for the Reputation Tour, putting her on track to have one of the top-grossing tours of all time based on Billboard Boxscores. (A request for comment from representatives for Swift and promoter AEG was not returned as of press time.)
Swift is looking at a huge earnout despite not having sold out a single show on her tour, a stark contrast from her 1989 Tour in 2015 which sold out in seconds. Swift watched as tickets were rapidly bought up by scalpers and bots and then resold on secondary sites like StubHub at high markups, sometimes three, four or five times face value. Hoping to capture more of the revenue for her Reputation Tour, Swift sold her tickets at much higher prices than in previous years, fetching upwards of $500 for floor seats, $800 for pit passes and $1,500 for VIP tickets.
The idea is to charge what people end up eventually paying for the ticket on the secondary market, capturing the revenue for the artist and making it more difficult for scalpers to flip the tickets on the secondary. While the practice does shift spending toward the artist, several ticketing professionals say they are concerned about how Swift’s high ticket prices will affect consumers.
At Houston's NRG Stadium, where Swift plays Sept. 29, the cheapest tickets are $160 apiece, with some seats listed high up in the rafters selling for $230, meaning a young fan would have to pay between $400-$500 for a pair of tickets to her show.
"Whenever I see an upper deck ticket priced above $200 for a football stadium tour I have a hard time imagining that fan will leave the show thinking they got their money’s worth,” says Patrick Ryan, co-founder of ticketing and distribution company Eventellect. "Regardless of whether they bought that ticket on the primary or secondary market, $200 is a lot to spend on a seat literally in the rafters.”
While Ryan says he believes it is "good that the artist is taking a harder look at the ticket prices and isn’t focused on getting an immediate sellout,” he said the consequences of high ticket prices could mean fans "go to fewer sporting events and other concerts during that same time frame.”
"Overall, it's good and smart for Taylor to price her tickets higher,” he says, "but it could cannibalize other games or shows, because for most consumers, they don’t have an endless budget.”
There’s also a larger question about whether the days of instant tour sellouts are gone, replaced by a “slow ticketing” model where platforms like Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan allow only a few fans to purchase tickets at a time. After running a month-long promotion for Taylor Swift Tix where fans were encouraged to buy her albums and merchandise in order to “boost” their chances of getting a good ticket, Swift began selling a small number of tickets to fans on Dec. 5, only allowing three people at a time into the purchase queue to complete transactions.
As each day of the Verified Fan presale passed, more buyers were allowed into the sales queue -- the idea was to weed out scalpers who often overwhelm an onsale with ticketing bots and automated programs that allow them to buy up tickets faster than fans. What Ticketmaster wants to avoid is having all the tickets sell out in seconds and then have fans turn to sites like StubHub for available tickets.
"We'd like to sell the last ticket to her concert when she takes the stage each night," David Marcus, executive vp and head of music at Ticketmaster, told Billboard last month. "We're not trying to sell all of her tickets in one minute; we're trying to figure out how to sell tickets in a more modern way.”