Who's the queen of the summer concert season?

Photo: Raph_PH via Creative Commons

Key takeaways

  • Taylor Swift's tour has had more impact than Beyoncé's on local markets for flexible labor
  • Swift played more dates and was more likely to play on weekends, boosting her impact
  • Beyoncé still created spikes in labor demand in stadiums and their immediate vicinities

The rumblings were there even before Beyoncé crossed the ocean. Her tours were generating so much excitement – and economic activity – in Europe that some economists blamed her for boosting inflation. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift was pulling in hundreds of thousands of fans, even without tickets, at her dates across America. Now that Beyoncé is stateside as well, which star has had the bigger economic impact?

The Swift effect

Back in June, we wrote about the huge boosts to the demand for flexible work that coincided with Swift's tour dates. Even excluding the immediate neighborhood of the stadiums where she played, we found increases in demand of up to 400%. But these surges of economic activity only happened around stadiums that were located near the center of metropolitan areas.

Not by accident, Beyoncé has already performed at some of the same venues that Swift sold out earlier this year. So how did the demand for flexible labor respond? Let's start by looking at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, where Beyoncé kicked off the portion of her tour in the United States – and where Swift's arrival sent labor demand skyrocketing:

By contrast with Swift, Beyoncé's arrival didn't move the needle. To be sure, Swift played three shows in Philadelphia, while Beyoncé played only one. And Swift's shows started on a Friday and ran through the weekend, while Beyoncé played only on a Wednesday. So before either singer ever took the stage, it was more likely that fans would have decided to stay in the area and patronize the local businesses in Swift's case.

Another city where Swift had a noticeable impact on bookings for flexible work was Chicago. Her three-night stand there doubled demand. But again, Beyoncé's visit – this time for two nights – didn't seem to change the usual weekly pattern:

Stadium spikes

There hasn't been the same press about legions of fans camped outside of stadiums, tickets or no tickets, for Beyoncé as there was for Swift. Maybe that's because Beyoncé's fans skew a bit older and more mature. After all, the artist herself is eight years older than Swift.

But that doesn't mean Beyoncé's tour had no effect at all on local labor markets. If we include the stadiums and their vicinities, we can see much more of an impact. For example, look what happened at Ford Field and its full five-mile radius in Detroit:

Beyoncé's single show raised shift bookings by more than 300% versus the average on other days. But something else happened on July 15 that pushed bookings even higher. Actually, it was someone else – a guy named Ed Sheeran.

Yet being bested by the likes of Sheeran and Swift in these metrics shouldn't worry Queen Bey too much. At least one analyst expects that her world tour will still outearn Swift's jaunt by hundreds of millions of dollars. In fact, Beyoncé had already played to a million fans before her tour arrived on American soil. So while local economies might not benefit quite as much, the artist herself will be singing all the way to the bank.

Realtime metrics

These metrics, derived from data aggregated across the Instawork platform, compare the two weeks starting 7/20/2023 to the previous two weeks. To control for the overall growth of the Instawork marketplace, only shifts involving businesses that booked shifts in both periods are included:

  • $0.07 rise in hourly pay
  • 0.4% point drop in share of short-notice shifts
  • 0.3 hours drop in hours per existing worker

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