Two of 2023’s Hottest Tickets: What Event Profs Can Learn From Blockbuster Concert Tours by Taylor Swift and Beyoncé
Following COVID, the pent-up demand for in-person events and experiences has reached new highs. Artists like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter are cashing in – big time.
With $579 million in revenue, Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour will go down in history as the highest-grossing tour by a female artist of all time, according to Forbes – at least until The Eras Tour by Swift concludes on Nov. 23, 2024, in Toronto. It’s estimated the tour will generate $1.4 billion in gross revenue, according to Pollstar.
With soaring revenues and big production budgets, these B2C experiences highlight not only what is possible but also what is resonating with audiences around the globe.
Beyoncé made her final stop on the Renaissance World Tour, which was sponsored by Tiffany & Co., at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sun., Oct. 1. This was the 56th stop for the tour that began on May 10 in Stockholm Sweden, performing in front of 2.7 million fans in 39 cities. The show was historic since it marked the first time a Black woman has headlined a concert at Arrowhead. She was the only performer on the bill.
While the Renaissance World Tour has come to an end, The Eras Tour, which is sponsored by Capital One and kicked off March 17 in Glendale, Ariz., is currently on a hiatus before she heads to Europe to finish out her 106-show tour. Swift performed two sold-out shows at Arrowhead Stadium on July 7 and 8.
Takeaways for #eventprofs
How can organizers harness some of that energy and excitement for the audiences at B2B events? When reflecting on the experience at both shows from the event professional perspective, here are a few takeaways.
1. Everyone loves a theme. What to wear? Fans were styling in silver at Beyonce and drew inspiration from every single album and era in Swift’s extensive arsenal. From disco cowboy hats and iridescent jumpsuits to rhinestone boots and sequin skirts, the fits at each concert were a true highlight.
2. Community matters. It was all about inclusion for the BeyHive and Swifties.
3. Timing is everything. Swift’s first words to the audience: “Welcome to the release party for Speak Now.” Dropping her re-recorded album on the day of her concert was brilliant. Beyoncé, who had performed in Kansas City for more than 20 years, kept the audience waiting, coming on stage nearly two hours after the start time. Her first words back? “Kansas City, I love you.”
4. Special Drops. Swift concert-goers got to see the world premiere of the video for “I Can See You.” Have you ever been to a concert with a premiere for a video? The audience ate it up.
5. Delight your audience. Both tours did it with pyrotechnics, fireworks, costumes, staging, lighting and…
6. Movers and shakers in attendance. Celebrity guests included Jennifer Garner, spokesperson for Capital One, and the Swift music video stars Joey King, Presley Cash (a Missouri native), and her ex Taylor Lautner. Rap star Cardi B came to see Beyonce. She walked in wearing a skin-tight silvery dress as the crowd waiting for Queen Bey chanted her name. Beyoncé’s daughter, 11-year-old Blue Ivy, performed and received a standing ovation.
7. Easter eggs. True #swifties were on the lookout. At Beyonce, those in the know were ready for the “mute” challenge. Despite earning the Guinness World Record for loudest stadium in the world, Arrowhead was quiet for a few seconds during the song “Energy.”
8. Surprise songs. Each Swift set list includes two surprise songs, one played on acoustic guitar and the other on piano. She played three surprise songs on July 7.
9. Tech enhancements. While light-up wristbands have become common at concerts, the semi-transparent LED wall on the Eras Tour and staging was state-of-the-art. At Beyoncé, the giant screen had a “portal” in the center.
10. Upselling. For Swift, we opted to upgrade the experience with a tailgate party.
11. Merch. Blue crews at the Swift concert were the hottest items (even with a limit of two per person), and they sold out well before the concert started. The hottest merch at Beyoncé: a giant folding fan.
12. Post-show video. The day after the Renaissance Tour ended, Beyoncé announced that her record-breaking tour will soon be coming to a theater near you. With the global release of Swift’s The Eras Tour concert film on Oct. 13, the movie grossed $92.8 million in North America in its opening weekend and $30.7 million internationally. The Eras Tour scored the biggest box office debut for a concert film ever, according to Billboard.
13. Wifi and mobile service. It was spotty at best during each show – the only real drawback to either performance.