The Bay Area Sells Out to Taylor Swift’s Profitable Whiteness

Taylor Swift is set to cause massive traffic delays when her Eras Tour descends on Santa Clara — “Swiftie Clara” — this weekend, bringing with it her brand of Caucasian suburbia.

As an aging Millennial, Taylor Swift has remained an omnipresent figure in my life since her self-titled debut album entered the cultural zeitgeist on October 24th, 2006. She exemplifies a basket case of dichotomies.

The 12-time Grammy-winner’s work ethic is admirable and aspirational; she, simultaneously, lives under a spotlight of privilege — a white woman, whose affluent family uprooted their entire lives to support her flowery dreams. 

The woman who constructed an entire anthology off one winter scarf has also built a career on peddling the oft-maligned American Dream.

Taylor Swift has, no pun intended, masterfully reclaimed the narrative around her master’s being sold without her consent or knowledge. Taylor Swift’s unapologetic capitalism is rife with her nauseating selling of, more often than not, the exact same music released under the guise of new merchandise; fresh, “limited edition” vinyl; the offering of digitally tailored collections (that contain no new material) to impressionable fans.

When tickets for the Eras Tour went on sale, Taylor Swift, who has sold over 114 million albums as of publishing, bartered seats far behind the main stage at many venues — allowing fans to pay hundreds of dollars to admire her back. 

Yes, I’m a fan of Taylor Swift. I teeter on Swiftie fandom. 

Though no matter how strong your allegiance is to the 33-year-old songbird, you can’t help but raise a discerning, disappointed eyebrow at an artist selling expensive stadium tickets that unapologetically put fans in obstructive seats to her front-facing main stage work. (For a comparison using another polarizing artist who’s currently on a worldwide excursion, no tickets sold for Beyoncé’s celebrated Renaissance World Tour put attendees behind the mainstage.)

The Eras Tour is a collection of dates built around and marketed toward upper-middle-class white women, those whose utopias exist in between fantastical whims of sliced bread and friendship bracelets. Why? Because there’s power in this skewed hype — a cross-generational appeal that can be squeezed for record-breaking tour sales. 

As of June, the tour was bringing in an average of $13 million per show, putting it on track for the highest-grossing tour in music history; the vast majority of these sales are from her audience, which, per a report from Morning Consult, is white and suburban.

Every city Swift’s worldwide tour has descended on has fallen under her raptorial grip, offering her honorary mayoral titles and city renamings during her show stops

The Bay Area is no exception to this. Santa Clara, the regional city where Swift’s tour will inundate Levi’s Stadium with over 58,000 individuals Saturday and Sunday, is pandering to her.

Swiftie Clara” is now a thing from July 28 to 29, during the Eras Tour weekend. Of course, she’s the mayor of the temporary township. The Santa Clara Police Department cheekily shared a photoshopped version of the agency’s badge that read “Swiftie Clara Police.” Bay Area transit agencies are using her local tour stop as fodder for public transit support (which we support, sans this sellout). While tailgating — “Taylor-gating” — in the parking lot of her Bay Area shows this weekend isn’t allowed, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor approves of people gathering outside the stadium to hear her show. 

I’d be remiss to say that no single human being should possess this amount of cache, importance, and sellability in music. Though I don’t need to; the Eras Tour represents the broken, tainted, white-leaning state of the music industry as we know it. Mind you: None of this is explicitly her fault, but she hasn’t exactly done anything to mitigate nor push away from her almost unethical monopoly and stardom. 

Beyoncé — a Black artist whose career spans a full decade more than Swift’s; a woman with 29 Grammys to her name, who’s been the target of blackface and conservative hate in previous years; the greatest performer of our generation capable of dancing and singing circles around Swift — is set to bring her Renaissance World Tour to the same stadium on August 30th.  

Beyoncé’s tour stops have been praised for the diversity and welcoming escapism found in her crowds; stadiums filled for Swift’s Era Tour concerts have, quite literally, become a meme for their witness and lack of multiplicity. 

I hope I’m wrong in this assumption, but I don’t see Santa Clara rolling out the proverbial red carpet for Beyoncé — who represents a more inclusionary spirit and less capitalistic fixture in the music industry — in the same way it has for Taylor Swift when she arrives next month. Because, if I’m right, it would further emphasize Swift’s power of whiteness and proclivity for cash-grabbing… all while sprinkling bits of racism into the problem at hand.

Feature Image: Tom Cooper/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

1 Comment

  • Peter Jacobs

    Hello Matt, I have been reading your takes on many events in San Francisco. I am also at least 30 years older than you. I am also a guy who lived in San Francisco since the late 60’s through the mid 80’s. Years ago I worked with Bill Graham in bringing the top Rock Groups to The City for Concerts and also was involved with the Fillmore West and other venues that were similiar. I also produced syndicated Radio Shows regarding up and coming Rock Musicians and was responsible in assisting many in becoming very well known. It was a different world back in the day and the pretense in creating popular musicians had nothing to do with all the BS of todays popular musicians and vocalists. Current Top Musicians ( vocalists in particular ) are invented and changed dramatically to insure the top dollar is far more important than the abilities of the Artists that are groomed, under contract as to what they can say, not say and their lives are controlled by those that represent them. Contracts between the Artists and management in this day and age include management in controlling all Artists and all aspects of their professional life as well as personal. Contracts are beyond belief and are signed due to the riches the new stars will be making provided they agree to the outrageous convenants of their contracts that include professional and personal behaviour. Also how they dress, how to act, what to say and not say to the media as well as trying to control who they see as well as staging personal situations of an Artist to attain even more popularity. All individually is scripted and these people are simply talented robots for generating as much money as they possibly can. Taylor Swift is an invention of who has created her as well as how powerful money can be. Selling ones soul is just a part of the fun as it also entails manufactured stars to become billionaires.Sellings ones soul is nothing compared to the money. Shows are not designed by the stars. They are orchestrated by professionals in becoming what management wants and always get. The individuals whose career is manufactured are not the ones responsible for what they say to others, the media et al. They are however the ones who signed a contract to allow others to control every aspect of their life for large sums of money and notoriety. When they say something that may offend you and or others, what they say or do not say is just part of their contract they had agreed to. Could you imagine Grace Slick, Debbi Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Annie lennox or Patty Smith and many more agreeing to what top talent of today must agree to or not having a career.
    For the most part, I do enjoy reading what you have to say regarding the many topics you choose. Peter

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