Be fearless, plus more business learnings from Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour
“Lover” or hater, you can’t argue with Taylor Swift’s success. The 12-time Grammy winner, first artist to claim all top ten spots on the Billboard chart simultaneously, and tour de force behind the record-smashing Eras Tour, the 33-year-old is on top of the world. But besides being a supremely talented singer, performer, and songwriter, Swift has business acumen that just about any CEO could learn from.
Most business owners can only dream of the kind of success that Swift continues to enjoy, but there are plenty of things you can learn from the entertainment juggernaut. Here are a few of them.
Know your customer
This is a business adage that Taylor Swift knows “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).”
Swift has grown up alongside many of her fans, and she writes songs that exactly mirror how they are feeling. Whether she is singing about the best friend who really should be her boyfriend (“You Belong With Me”) or ending things for good with the on-again, off-again relationship (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”), Swift speaks the language of her legion of fans.
And she speaks to them because she knows they relate to her. Whether she’s performing on stage, at an awards show, or interacting directly with a lucky fan at a secret session, she’s personable and down to earth, and she speaks their language.
Your customers may not be willing to shell out thousands of dollars to spend three hours with you and 65,000 of your closest friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate their loyalty. To do that, you need to know who they are, where they are, and what they value.
Swift has been called ‘Little Miss Capitalism’ and the moniker certainly seems to fit.
CNN estimates the North American leg of the tour could bring in $2.2 billion in gross revenue from ticket sales alone. Plus, there are the merch sales, music downloads, and the boost to the local economy in every city where she performs. Yet the Eras Tour will likely outgross every other tour in history. So how does she do that?
The scarcity of tickets was one significant factor. Even though Swift performed multiple shows in each city, there was significant pent-up demand since her Reputation Stadium Tour nearly five years before. Then the hype around ticket sales fed the demand and drove prices through the roof.
But the stage was set even before tickets went on sale. Swift had just released her “Midnights” album, and when most artists release a new album, their tour features that album. They’ll play other songs they’re famous for, of course, but the focus is on the new release. Swift didn’t do this. She went on tour to promote all of her albums – every era of her career to date. In this way, she appealed to every fan of her music, whether they liked the Midnights album or not. Given the various styles she has embodied over the years – country, pop, folk – this tour left no Swiftie behind.
For those who were unable to get (or afford) a ticket to one of her shows, there is now a movie made from footage of the tour. Tickets went on sale nearly a month before the October 13 release date and sold out quickly in many areas.
Combining product and service offerings in new ways can sometimes increase sales and attract new customers. Adding new products to the pipeline is important but there may still be demand for previous offerings, so try to think of innovative ways to put them together.
Meet your customers where they are – even if it means bucking the trend
The race to get tickets to the Eras Tour made the headlines, but Swift knew that not everyone who wanted to see her perform would be able to do so. So, she did some things that other musicians and venues have been reticent to do. Fans who could not get a ticket showed up at the stadiums and listened from the parking lot, singing along at the top of their lungs. And, while most concerts prohibit fans from making videos of the performance, those at Swift’s concerts recorded much of the show and posted it on social media in droves. Rather than slowing demand for the performances, the videos only made people want to see her more.
Thinking outside the box when it comes to getting your product to your customers might open some new avenues for you too.
Keep doing what works
In a particularly bold move, Swift decided to re-record her first six albums, the master recordings of which belonged to her recording company. While this is typical of recording contracts, according to Time, Swift’s original label, along with the masters of her first six albums, was sold to a private equity group. Swift did not care for the way she was treated by the new owners of her work, so she is re-recording all six albums. And fans are buying them up in droves.
While you may not be able to re-issue your product or service to your existing customers, there’s a lesson to be learned here about consumer loyalty and repackaging.
Be “Fearless” (Taylor’s Version)
Don’t be afraid to switch gears if what you’re doing isn’t working, if market conditions change, or if there’s more opportunity in another direction. Swift started out as a country musician, then moved to mainstream pop and has even experimented with folk and indie rock.
When her previously untarnished reputation began to come under attack, she didn’t shy away from it. She did what she does best – she wrote songs about it, which eventually became her Reputation album. And her fans, who already supported her with everything they had, continued to be faithful.
“Shake It Off” (Taylor’s Version)
There are many inspirational quotes about failure preceding success, and for good reason. Success only happens if you keep on trying and Swift, despite her meteoric rise at a young age, refused to give up when she encountered roadblocks. In some cases, she turned negatives into advantages, such as when Kanye West stole her thunder at the VMAs in 2009. The then 20-year-old Swift was shaken, but managed to perform shortly after and did her best to put the incident behind her.
“You Need to Calm Down”
For someone who sings with such emotion, Swift is calm and measured when it comes to business. She’s a planner and she gets advice from others when she needs it. But even those of us who are not top-selling recording artists can benefit from taking a few deep breaths and looking at the situation from a new perspective.
Regardless of the type of business you have, you can almost always learn something from those who’ve had success, even if it’s in a field different from yours. So, if you’re trying to get your business “Out of the Woods,” feel like you need to “Begin Again,” or are just trying to fill in that “Blank Space,” Taylor may be able to provide the inspiration you need. And if you’re looking to protect that business from the risks you can’t see coming, get a quote on the best business insurance for you.