By Rebecca Mendez, AASLH Membership and Office Coordinator
In May 2023, Nashville, known as Music City, had one of its busiest music weekends since probably the start of the pandemic. Not only were multiple celebrities in town for events, including Oprah Winfrey and Trevor Noah, but the most notable impact was Taylor Swift, who was returning to Nashville to perform three sold-out nights in a row at Nissan Stadium with around 70,000 attendees each night. This tour stop was expected to bring thousands of “Swifties” into the city. In the wake of this event, it was interesting to see how the city, and its museums, took advantage of the opportunity to market to Taylor Swift fans.
Demand for Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated Eras tour started back in November 2022 when tickets went on sale online. News quickly spread that Ticketmaster’s site crashed during the pre-sale event and the general sale scheduled for later that week was cancelled due to the ticket inventory being sold out in record time. “Over 2 million tickets were sold for Taylor Swift’s tour on November 15, ‘the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day’ according to Ticketmaster.”¹
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
In anticipation of the tour stop in Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, located in the heart of Music City, opened a pop-up exhibit dedicated to Taylor’s career. The exhibit opened May 1, just days before her Nashville tour dates. Similar to the concert tickets, entry tickets for the museum were sold out quickly in advance for the opening weekend. The exhibit, titled Through Taylor Swift’s Eras, “includes a total of 10 outfits that represent each of the artist’s 10 albums, from 2006’s Taylor Swift to 2022’s Midnights.” The museum, which also houses the Taylor Swift Education Center, updated the center with “new artifacts representing Swift and her latest studio album, Midnights. These objects will be on view through early summer 2024 and are also accessible with general museum admission.”²
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Another iconic music venue, the Ryman Auditorium, also took advantage of the “Taylor Weekend” by posting on their Facebook page and offering a deal on admission: “Calling all Swifties! We’re celebrating our friend Taylor Swift’s 3 sold out shows in Nashville by offering ticket holders $3 off a Ryman tour this weekend.” They also highlighted their display of her dress that she wore on the Ryman stage back in 2022.
It felt like the entire city was buzzing! Especially after the first show when Taylor announced her re-release of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” “three of Nashville’s monuments—the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, the Tennessee State Capitol and the Alliance Bernstein building downtown—were illuminated in purple, the album’s color.”³
These organizations skillfully marketed towards the “Swifties,” a built-in audience that would be present in abundance for the weekend. Utilizing Taylor’s popularity as a ‘wow’ factor, they were able to “intrigue the audiences by the theme and objects on display… bring[ing] in fans, while also drawing the interest of the general public.”³ This is a great example of how important it is for history organizations to keep up with local events and utilize them to their advantage. Nashville history institutions truly embraced the crowds and catered to their interests while highlighting their collections and allowing fans to enjoy every bit of Taylor content they could while in Nashville.
- Murray Stassen, “Taylor Swift Just Crashed Ticketmaster’s Site and Sold Over 2 Million Tickets. To Meet Demand, She Would Have Had to Play 900 Stadium Shows. Music Business Worldwide, Nov. 18, 2022. https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/taylor-swift-crashed-ticketmasters-site-and-sold-2-million-tickets-to-meet-demand-she-would-have-had-to-play-900-stadium-shows/
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, “Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Opens Taylor Swift Pop-up Exhibit Featuring Wardrobe Spanning the Eras of Her Career. May 1, 2023. https://www.countrymusichalloffame.org/press/releases/taylor-swift-eras-announce
- Rebecca Ramirez, “Curatorial Practices to Exhibiting Popular Music History in Music Museums” (Master’s thesis, San Francisco State University, 2016), 127.
Rebecca Mendez is the Membership and Office Coordinator at AASLH. Prior to joining AASLH, she worked at various art and history museums in California. Contact Rebecca at [email protected].