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Why Taylor Swift? She’s ‘the voice of a couple of generations’

A look inside the overwhelming demand to get tickets for pop star’s lone Canadian show
Taylor Swift, centre, performs during the opener of her Eras tour Friday, March 17, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ashley Landis

The headline-grabbing frenzy to secure tickets to Taylor Swift’s Toronto shows is a culmination of the pop star’s “unique” status in music history and her brilliant marketing skills, says a professor who taught a course on the subject.

Jamie Gillies, a communications and public policy professor who led the “Communications and Taylor Swift” course at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, says it’s no surprise that many Swifties were left on waitlists — or shut out altogether — in their attempts so far to buy coveted tickets for the only Canadian stop of the global Eras Tour.

“I think the challenge with Toronto is it’s six shows for 40 million people (across Canada), right? So they’re probably the most in-demand tickets, even more than the ones that have happened in U.S. and Europe, simply because there’s so many people trying to go to these six shows,” Gillies said in an interview.

The first day of Ticketmaster presales on Wednesday was marked by celebration and disappointment, as some fans scored seats for the first two nights of Swift’s Toronto stop in November 2024 while others were wait-listed. When the next two dates went on sale Thursday, fans took to social media to report similar outcomes: the lucky ones got tickets while many more received the dreaded waitlist email.

Ticketmaster is staggering ticket sales for the six shows at Toronto’s Rogers Centre over three days to avoid online technical issues Swift fans may have encountered for past shows. Buyers must have already registered for and received a “verified fan” sale code in order to get in the virtual queue for the tickets.

Tickets are already being listed for resale on websites such as StubHub and SeatGeek for thousands of dollars each.

For fans like Emily Lessard, the disappointment of losing the Ticketmaster lottery is only compounded by the exorbitant price of resale tickets.

“The nose bleeds at the Rogers Centre — people are selling those for $1,700 per ticket and it’s just outrageous,” said the 29-year-old Cambridge, Ont., resident who was planning to buy one ticket with money borrowed from family members had she been successful in getting a Ticketmaster presale code.

“It’s upsetting because … I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan for more than half my life. I’ve literally got YouTube videos of myself out there when I was like 14, singing her songs and stuff. And it just really sucks that only certain fans who can afford to go can go.”

Gillies, who hopes to score his own tickets through the Royal Bank’s exclusive allocation of seats for its Avion members next week, said Swift’s enormous popularity means that her fans are actually “happy to spend money” to see her shows and buy related merchandise.

“What makes it so interesting is that people are generally satisfied if they’re able to get tickets to a Taylor Swift show for $1,000 each,” he said, calling it a “genuine” phenomenon.

Swift and her team have developed marketing and branding strategies that revolve around her ability “to sell herself, to sell authenticity, sell people the idea … of being close to Taylor Swift,” Gillies said.

“I think the big thing that makes her incredibly unique is she came along in the music industry at such a fascinating time, sort of between millennials and gen Z, and the sort of newer, younger kids. She kind of hit at a particular time where she carried with her about 20 years’ worth of fans,” he added, calling her “the voice of a couple of generations” and “one of the greatest songwriters of all time.”

Gillies said the demand for Swift is so big, “she could put on a show every night of the year — so 300 plus shows — and they would all sell out.”

Losing out on Swift tickets is more than just missing a fun concert, Lessard said.

“When you go to her concerts, you’re all friends. We exchange friendship bracelets and stuff like that. So it sucks to be in this position, but I also know I feel some solidarity because I know that a lot of other people are in the same position. So we can bond in our Taylor Swift disappointment era, I guess you could say.”

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