Hot Tour Summer Sees Taylor, Beyonce Eye $1 bn Mark

Taylor Swift performs onstage on the first night of her 'Eras Tour' at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in March 2023. SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP/File
Taylor Swift performs onstage on the first night of her 'Eras Tour' at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in March 2023. SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP/File
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Hot Tour Summer Sees Taylor, Beyonce Eye $1 bn Mark

Taylor Swift performs onstage on the first night of her 'Eras Tour' at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in March 2023. SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP/File
Taylor Swift performs onstage on the first night of her 'Eras Tour' at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in March 2023. SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP/File

It's a pop queen's world and we're just living in it: Industry watchers are speculating over whether Tay or Bey could post the first billion-dollar tour, as 2023 witnesses an explosion of shows.

Taylor Swift and Beyonce are among the dozens of stars who've hit the road and fueled a booming arena market, as demand for live entertainment soars after years of pandemic-induced cancellations and postponements.

From Pink to Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen to Drake, and SZA to The Weeknd, stadiums across the United States and beyond are setting the stage for what's poised to be the biggest year for live music on record.

"I have never seen as many artists out at the same time, in the same space," Stacy Merida, a professor at American University who studies the business of music, told AFP.

Madonna -- who in the early 1990s created the contemporary tour as we know it, with elaborate sets and costumes -- was set to embark on a career-spanning tour in mid-July, but postponed it due to illness.

The 64-year-old is slated to start her European leg of shows in October, and reschedule the North American concerts for later dates.

So it's the 33-year-old Swift who is now within striking distance of the billion-dollar mark, with 106 current dates on her "Eras" tour.

Odds are also favoring Beyonce as she commences the North American leg of her "Renaissance" tour.

If either cross the history-making line, they'd jump past Elton John.

His just-ended "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour, which began in 2018, had grossed more than $910 million as of June 18, a few weeks before his final show in Stockholm on July 8, according to Billboard Boxscore.

John had surpassed the previous record-holder, Ed Sheeran's 2017-2019 "Divide" tour, which nabbed $776 million.

Part of the current boom comes from increased ticket prices: Sheeran charged just under $100 for "Divide," according to tracker Pollstar, but played well over 200 shows.

Tickets for Bey and Tay are averaging out to be more than double that, for basic seats.

Live Nation, which in 2010 merged with Ticketmaster, says it's already sold 100 million tickets for 2023 concerts -- more than it sold for the entire year of 2019.

The company posted $4.4 billion in revenue during this year's second quarter, promoting some 12,500 concerts to 33.5 million fans.

"With most of the world fully re-opened, it's clear that concerts remain a high priority for fans," Live Nation said in its most recent earnings report.

Ticketing grumbles
But while demand has soared, it's not without much grumbling over the privileged position of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

For years, concertgoers have complained of hidden fees, soaring costs, rampant scalpers and limited tickets due to presales.

The issue reignited earlier this year after botched sales for Swift's tour wreaked havoc, prompting a congressional hearing over purported anti-competitive practices and ardent calls for the company to be broken up.

That possibility doesn't appear on the horizon, and ticket prices keep climbing in the meantime -- and fans keep paying.

"The vertical integrated monopoly really has a lot of ripple effects in terms of prices," said Andrew Leff, a music industry veteran and attorney who teaches at the University of Southern California.

"If you're Ticketmaster and you can charge anything you want and you don't have any competition, and a demand for Taylor Swift or Beyonce comes along, that's simple supply-and-demand economics," he told AFP.

"They can charge whatever they want -- which is what they do."

'Beyonce blip'
And according to Leff, the concert boom isn't necessarily seeing its benefits trickle down to smaller acts.

"There's really two music industries," he said. "There's the music industry for the one percent and the music industry for the 99 percent."

"Unless you're playing in front of 500 people or more every night, you're probably not even breaking even."

It's an all too familiar story: Touring doesn't come cheap, and it's a lifeline for artists whose royalties from streaming notoriously make the tiniest of dents.

But with everyone back on the road trying to make up lost revenue from the pandemic years, there's competition for everything from venues to tour buses.

Last fall, the indie artist Santigold was among the first to speak out on the challenges facing performers like her -- and canceled her tour, saying she was "simply unable to make it work," not least due to inflation and competition in a saturated market.

Meanwhile, recent data from research company QuestionPro suggests Swift's tour could generate some $4.6 billion in consumer spending in the United States alone, pumping dollars into local economies including hotels and restaurants.

And Queen Bey's "Renaissance" tour caused a "Beyonce blip" when she performed in Stockholm in May, driving up Sweden's inflation by about 0.2 percentage points.

"Beyonce's start of her world tour in Sweden seems to have colored May inflation," said Michael Grahn, chief economist for Sweden at Danske Bank, at the time.



Sienna Miller: I Was 'Obsessed' with Costner's 'Dances with Wolves'

Costner and Miller are co-stars in 'Horizon: An American Saga'. Valery HACHE / AFP
Costner and Miller are co-stars in 'Horizon: An American Saga'. Valery HACHE / AFP
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Sienna Miller: I Was 'Obsessed' with Costner's 'Dances with Wolves'

Costner and Miller are co-stars in 'Horizon: An American Saga'. Valery HACHE / AFP
Costner and Miller are co-stars in 'Horizon: An American Saga'. Valery HACHE / AFP

Sienna Miller was such a huge fan of Kevin Costner's films when growing up that she named her pet rabbits after animals in "Dances With Wolves".
Now she is starring alongside Costner in his ambitious film series "Horizon: An American Saga" -- a four-part project that he mortgaged his home to fund, said AFP.
The first two installments -- each some three hours long -- hit cinemas this summer, with the first released on June 28.
Miller, 42, said she remained star-struck.
"I'm a child of the 90s. I can still barely look at Kevin, because he was such a huge part of my childhood," she told AFP.
Costner's Oscar-winning "Dances with Wolves" from 1990 was "the first time I really had my heart broken by a film -- I was obsessed with it," Miller said.
She had two pet rabbits named Two Socks and Cisco after the wolf and horse in the film.
"Horizon" follows multiple characters and storylines on the violent frontier of the 19th century as European settlers took over Native American land, with Miller playing a woman whose family is attacked and faces a brutal struggle to survive.
"I like to think I would be an OK frontier woman. I'm more outdoorsy than you might assume," she said.
"But I don't think it would have been fun. I know Kevin says he wished he lived back then. I think it was a very difficult time to have been alive."
Miller was pregnant for the filming of the second installment, which made the conditions even tougher.
"We were really out in nature. That was hard, because you're in corsets and it's boiling and there are scorpions and rattlesnakes.
"I found earth, that red earth, in my hair for like a month. Up my nose, ears, every orifice. Well, not every orifice," she added with a laugh.
Only Costner knew she was pregnant during the second shoot.
"I was feeling pretty sick. That corset was not my friend!"
'Horrific genocide'
Miller welcomed the chance to learn more about the history of the period.
"This country with an indigenous people who were exterminated violently, brutally, in a horrific genocide -- that isn't talked about nearly enough," she said.
"It's a bloody history and a gory history and a devastating history. But it happened. And I think to be able to look at it and not get too political, but just to show the truth of it, that's refreshing."
Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, where "Horizon" got its world premiere last month, Costner told AFP he began working on the script way back in 1988 but could never find a studio to back it.
"But I loved it and so I decided I would write four, which is very American of me -- insane," he said.
Reviews so far have been decidedly mixed, however, with IndieWire calling it "the dullest vanity project of the century" while The Telegraph gushed over its "sheer, magisterial sweep".
Costner says he has no concerns about bankrupting himself.
"What's the fear? If they take it away from me, I still have my movie. I still have my integrity. I still listened to my heart," he said.