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 33, Taylor Swift has a total of 12 #1 albums (as of July 16th, 2023). Only The Beatles and Elvis Presley have spent more weeks at #1 on the Billboard album chart, and Swift should pass Elvis in the near future. The Beatles and Taylor Swift are the only artists to have five albums stay at #1 for six-plus weeks, and the only artists to have three singles together in the Top-10 from three different albums.
Because of the re-recording of Speak Now, Swift placed 4 albums simultaneously in the Top-10. The last time a living artist has done that was Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass in 1966. The rankings for Swift’s albums were #1 Speak Now, #5 Midnights, #7 Lover, & #10 Folklore. By having her 12th #1 album, Taylor Swift passes Barbra Streisand as the woman with the most #1’s. Speak Now also had the biggest sales week of 2023, which made it the biggest week since Swift’s Midnights in October of 2022.
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 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 the last three years, she’s had six #1 albums. No other singer-songwriter has done that. She also has won the Grammy for Album Of The Year a record three times (Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, & Frank Sinatra are tied with her).
Of course Swift also grabs a guitar or sits at a piano and delivers performances in the classic singer-songwriter style.
In 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. The IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) gave the award to Swift for having the most global sales and streaming. She’s earned the award a record three times in the ten years of its existence. In other years, she’s placed second twice, and third twice. Taylor Swift is also the only artist to have 9 albums in the top 40 (while still living), and the only one to have that for five weeks (as of June, 2023).
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. This is projected to be the highest grossing U.S. 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 53 stadium concerts in the U.S., there are also 78 international shows scheduled from August of 2023 through August of 2024. Stops include Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil into November 2023. Then, the tour will continue in 2024 with concerts in Asia, Australia, the U.K. and Europe. And in August of 2023, Swift announced 9 more U.S. dates and 6 in Toronto, Canada for the fall of 2024. That’s a total of 146 performances.
After the Australian dates were announced, 4-million people were in the queue trying to buy tickets. That’s enough people to sell out 40 concerts at 100,000 seat stadiums! Plus, Taylor Swift had the top five positions on the album charts there. That’s a new record. The Eras Tour is expected to be the first ever to break a gross of one-billion-dollars, and new projections show it could top 2-Billion.
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. Update: 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 $5-billion to the world economy.
Update: 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.
Update: As Taylor Swift approached the final U.S. Eras shows in L.A., she gave bonuses to her entire crew, truck drivers, and backup musicians totaling 55-million-dollars! Beyoncé & Ed Sheeren…it’s your move.
Update: At her final concert in L.A. (8/9), Taylor Swift announced her album 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is being released this October 27th (the same date the original album was released nine years ago). It will have five new “from the vault” tracks, and is sure to be her 13th #1 album. The Queen of Marketing has already made available multiple covers and colors of records, CD’s, & cassettes.
Update: The Eras Tour concert film is coming to a theater near you! The film opens in North America & many international theaters on October 13th, 2023, just two months after Taylor Swifts’ final U.S. concert in August. New York’s largest IMAX theater sold out right after the announcement was made, and a record 37-million-dollars in tickets were sold the first day. It’s going to be really interesting to see how big a concert movie can be. The film is scheduled to run four weekends, but that’s expected to be extended..