No singer-songwriter in history (male or female) has matched the accomplishments of Taylor Swift. Billy Joel said Taylor Swift is like her generation’s Beatles. It sounded like an exaggeration when he said it, but he may be right…or at least not crazy.
At age 34 (as of Dec. 13th, 2023) Taylor Swift has a total of 13 #1 albums. Only The Beatles have spent more weeks at #1 (132 weeks) on the Billboard album chart. Swift is second with 69 weeks (1/10/24). The Beatles and Taylor Swift are the only artists to have five albums stay at #1 for six-plus weeks.
When Taylor Swift’s re-recorded Speak Now album was released on July 7th, 2023, it was Swift’s 12th album in a row to debut at #1. It features six never-released songs, and has a total of 22 tracks. The original Speak Now was Swift’s third album, and to prove a point, she wrote it completely on her own. It had six hit singles, spent six weeks at #1, and went six-times platinum.
Once artists break through, they typically have the greatest success of their careers in the first five to ten years. After that, their recordings start to sell less (and stream less), even if they’re still major concert draws. Yet Taylor Swift has sustained her career, and is at her peak over 17 years after she started.
Like Elton John, Carole King, and Brian Wilson, Taylor Swift often uses co-writers. For example, on two of her best albums, Folklore and Evermore, many of the songs were co-written by Aaron Dessner. During the time of COVID in 2020, Dessner would send instrumental “song starters” to Swift. She would then write the melody and lyrics to go along with the chord progressions. It’s basically the same way guitarist Mike Campbell provided chords and riffs for Tom Petty for some songs, like “Runnin’ Down A Dream”. Taylor Swift has also written enough songs all by herself to fill five albums, and has written hits for other artists..
The women singer-songwriters of the classic era of the 1970’s…like Carole King, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell…wrote some historically great songs, but they never had to also be able to sing them while performing dance choreography. Sure, other female Pop stars do choreography, but their careers have not kept up with the accomplishments of Taylor Swift. In just over three years, she’s had seven #1 albums. No other singer-songwriter has done that. She also has won the Grammy for Album Of The Year a record four times (2/4/24).
Of course Swift can simply grab a guitar or sit at a piano and deliver performances in the classic singer-songwriter style.
In a 2023 poll, 53-percent of Americans said they are fans of Taylor Swift. That’s a major accomplishment in these days of scattered media and niche music. On an international level, Taylor Swift was the Global Recording Artist of the Year for 2022 & 2023. She’s earned the award a record four times in the ten years of its existence. In other years, she’s placed second twice, and third twice.
When Taylor Swift released her 2022 album, Midnights, she became the first artist to have all of the Top 10 Billboard singles at the same time. Unlike the old days when artists would only release one or two singles at a time, album tracks are now considered singles as the albums are played on the streaming services. The most notable aspect is that no other singles were able to keep Taylor’s 10 songs from taking over. She also writes and directs her own award-winning music videos.
And Taylor Swift is setting new records for live performances. Despite some problems with Ticketmaster, she sold more tickets in one day than any other artist in history. It became the highest grossing tour in history. Her “Eras Tour” started with two sold out shows at a 70,000 seat stadium in Arizona. She’s also sold out even larger stadiums for as many as six nights. Unbelievably, Swift performs 44 songs during a show that lasts over 3-hours. Bruce Springsteen comes to mind as someone who’s done shows that long, minus all the choreography and stage production.
Let’s hope Taylor Swift can keep up the pace! Besides her 66 stadium concerts in 2023, there are 85 shows for 2024. Those stops include concerts in Asia, Australia, the U.K. and Europe, ending with U.S. and Canadian dates in the fall of 2024, for a total of 151 performances.
It was reported in December of 2023 that the Eras Tour is the first to break a gross of one-billion-dollars, and new projections show it could top 2-Billion after the tour is completed in 2024.
Bonus: Getty Images provided some great photos that show the size of the production on the “Eras Tour” (tap or click to enlarge).
And these are just a sample of the many production designs. A great effort was made to give fans a unique experience. Taylor Swift’s concerts have had such a large positive financial impact in each of the cities she’s played that the Fed says she is helping to lift the overall U.S. economy. Market research firm QuestionPro estimates Swift’s tour could add over $5-billion to the world economy. Other projections show she has already reached that figure with her 2023 shows.
Update: As Taylor Swift approached the final 2023 U.S. Eras shows in L.A., she gave bonuses to her entire crew, truck drivers, and backup musicians totaling 55-million-dollars! The bonus given each truck driver was $100,000.
Update: At her final concert in L.A. (8/9), Taylor Swift announced her album 1989 (Taylor’s Version). It was released on October 27th (the same date the original album was released nine years ago). It has five new “from the vault” tracks, and is her 13th #1 album. It was Swift’s biggest first week in sales ever. In December of 2023, Billboard said Taylor Swift had five albums in the Top 10 for five weeks, that’s never been done for even one week (by a living artist) before. Out of he thousands of albums available on vinyl, one out of every 15 sold in 2023 was a Taylor Swift album. She dominated the year.
On October 27th, 2023, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) made Taylor Swift the most-streamed artist in a single day, passing the record she had previously set with Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) earlier in 2023.
Update: The Eras Tour concert film opened in North America & many international theaters on October 13th, 2023, just two months after Taylor Swifts’ final U.S. concert in August. The film sold a record 37-million-dollars in tickets the first day. It made a total of 123.5-million-dollars the first weekend, and passed 261-million-dollars in sales. The concert film will be streaming on Disney+ starting March 15th, 2024. There will be five added songs, including “Cardigan”, and four of her acoustic performances.
Coming April 19th, 2024:
Taylor announced the new album during the Grammy Awards telecast. She won Album Of The Year for a record 4th time.
Here’s the new album’s track list. It also breaks down the vinyl sides:
The album comes with a (limited time) choice of covers, with four different bonus tracks…“The Manuscript”, “The Bolter”, “The Albatross”, and “The Black Dog”.