Worth it or wasteful?

From CDs and merchandise to streaming service subscriptions and resale concert tickets, being a fan of musical artists has hidden costs for teenagers
WSS interviews students to determine how much young adults spend on artists.
WSS interviews students to determine how much young adults spend on artists.
Elena Garcia Van Auken
WSS interviews students to determine how much young adults spend on artists.
An economic boom

After a pandemic-riddled economic decline over the past couple of years, the economy is slowly returning back to pre-pandemic levels. As the economy began to heal, artists’ ability to go on tour returned. The summer of 2023 saw an economic boom in local economies following the announcements of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Drake’s respective tours. 

 The idea of global superstars’ tours helping the economy isn’t a new one, as the South Korean group BTS adds $5 billion to the economy every year and countless artists have helped to boost the US economy in years past. However, these 2023 tours also brought an influx of people spending more on artists’ merchandise. Included in this were teenagers spending money on everything from vinyl records to $150 hoodies. So what exactly are West High students spending on some of the biggest artists right now? 

WSS interviews students to determine how much young adults spend on artists. (Elena Garcia Van Auken)
Nine of Taylor Swifts studio albums whose re-records have increased students spending on artists
Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s Era’s Tour is projected to add nearly $5 billion to the US economy at the end of the US leg of the tour, and Swift is making nearly $80 million from in-venue merchandise sales. In addition, Swift makes money from merchandise sales on her website and from her music sales and streams. 

Sophie Tremblay, an avid Swiftie and sophomore at West has experienced both the Ticketmaster queue and the excitement of a limited edition cardigan drop on Swift’s website and has spent over $1,000 on merchandise. 

Tremblay started the year off by going to the Era’s Tour, and although she paid face value off the Ticketmaster website, she states that she would’ve paid much more if she didn’t get them in the initial sale.

Ticketmaster was horrible. My mom waited for tickets for 10 [or] 11 hours.” Tremblay said. “I definitely would have [bought resale tickets], and I probably would have spent way too much money.”

Tremblay has also bought merchandise from Swift’s website this year. Although she notes that she doesn’t like some of Swift’s designs, she also explains that in comparison to other artists, Swift’s merchandise is good quality and affordable.

Honestly, compared to the other artists’ merch I’ve bought, Taylor Swift’s is way better quality, and it’s like the same price. So I don’t think it’s overpriced, but that’s also because I’ll spend money.” Tremblay said. 

Tremblay attributes part of her spending to Swift’s marketing techniques. Oftentimes Swift will release special versions of albums or even clothing for a limited time, and Tremblay notes that this is a powerful technique.

“Her marketing is really good and it makes you want to buy [her merchandise],” Tremblay said. “I also feel like because her fan base is so big, and there’s a lot of fans that want certain stuff [her techniques work].”

The other part of Tremblay’s spending comes from Swift’s re-recordings of her first six albums. With the costs of buying new CDs, vinyls, and limited edition merchandise, the money spent can add up.

“I think for me, it’s worth it to buy new versions of the songs because they’re hers now,” Tremblay said. “It feels kind of wrong to listen to the ones that are ‘stolen’ and aren’t hers because she wants to own all her music and I feel like I want to listen to what she wants everyone to listen to.”

Just as Tremblay thinks it’s worth it to buy the re-recordings, she also believes that her spending in regards to Taylor Swift is worth it.

“I don’t like thinking about the timeline of the money because I spent so much but it’s worth it. I like to think that I’m just supporting her and that the money’s just going to something that I love and listen to all the time. And if I’m going to listen to something all the time, why not show it?” 

Nine of Taylor Swift’s studio albums whose re-records have increased students’ spending on artists (Ashlyn Brady)
Six of Drakes studio albums whose sales have boosted the economy

Reported to gain over 200 million dollars (and now counting), rapper Drake is on his ‘It’s All a Blur Tour’ after completing a few more rescheduled shows, and as well as a newly announced extension with another rapper J Cole.

Similar to the Eras tour, ‘It’s All a Blur Tour’ features Drake’s song from throughout his career, as well as a feature with 21 Savage in the first leg of ‘It’s All a Blur.’ It had been 5 years since Drake had been on tour. The last one being in 2018, due to COVID like many artists. 

Angelina Forte ’24 went this August to one of his shows in Milwaukee. It was a last minute decision with her brother and some of his friends. “I bought them online and they were literally like $500 which was alright, but we weren’t in the pit or anything like it was one of those, seats at the top,” said Forte. 

Forte admitted the ticket prices were enough of an expense to not buy the merchandise for Drake’s tour. With the clothing no longer being sold on his website, resale values have been as high as 100 dollars for a t-shirt

“I feel like that’s a waste of money to have the merch and also paying so much money just to have, like, his face on a shirt or like his album on a shirt. When you can literally just listen to his music and [go] to that concert, which was enough for me to pay for ….”

Being said, artist have reported that their income can triple from merchandise. Drake himself is reported to make 50 million dollars this year off of his clothing brand label October’s Very Own (OVO). OVO is a luxury athletic wear brand that is co-owned by Drake’s producer, manager, and himself. It is a branch company from Drake’s sound label also called OVO. 

Forte went on about how being a fan isn’t always about buying tickets or merch, “Obviously not everyone can financially do that. But going to concerts has increased in popularity among teenagers. So I mean the experience and all that fun but, honestly, spending more than 300 or even 200 on a ticket to see your favorite artists, isn’t worth it if you can’t financially support it because you can still be a really big fan of artists and like not have to go see them.”

honestly, spending more than 300 or even 200 on a ticket to see your favorite artists, isn’t worth it if you can’t financially support it…

— Angelina Forte '24

Even with the pandemic riddling artist’s to hold back on shows, inflation and demand have driven prices back up. Pre COVID, prices were averaged at $125 (2019). This summer they averaged at $252. 

This new pricing has made it even more of a financial burden with the cost of seeing an artist. Adding travel, outfits, hotels, and of course the merchandise, will drive the total to view even more. 

Six of Drake’s studio albums whose sales have boosted the economy (Ashlyn Brady)
Four of Beyoncés studio albums, including her newest album, Renaissance

Beyoncé recently concluded her 56 show “Renaissance Tour” and although it was her ninth concert tour, it took the spot for her highest-grossing tour at $579 million. With high statistics comes an even higher amount of money that fans will pay to not only see Beyoncé on tour, but to also buy merchandise.

Olaf Christophersen ’25 is one Beyoncé fan at West who states that he has spent a lot of money on both her tour and her merchandise. Like many fellow Beyoncé fans, he spent part of his summer attending the “Renaissance Tour” in which bought tickets for face value from Ticketmaster while additionally paying travel fees. 

Christophersen explains in an email to WSS that he has also bought merchandise such as t-shirts, a keychain and a fan inscribed with the song name “HEATED”, stacking up to be around $170. 

While the overall cost of Christophersen’s tickets and merchandise still rounds out to be under the average amount of $1,800 that the New York Times calculated, Christophersen reflects on the costs of her merchandise and tour.

“All the prices I expected for a tour this size but it was a lot of money and I was very broke for a while afterward and still recovering,” Christophersen said in his email. 

Although Christophersen admits to spending a large sum of money on Beyoncé in the two years he’s been an avid fan, he notes that this spending doesn’t outweigh the spending on things in his daily life.

 “I wouldn’t say I spend more [on Beyoncé’s music and merchandise] than other things because this was the second time I’ve ever spent money on her music. She is one of two artists I’ve ever spent money on,” Christophersen wrote. 

While Christophersen’s spending in the summer might have created a following period of recovery, he states that his spending in regards to Beyoncé is worth it, and not wasteful.

“Everything was worth it 100%, it was the hands-down best night of my entire life and I don’t regret any of it. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to go see my idol,” Christophersen said. 





Four of Beyoncé’s studio albums, including her newest album, “Renaissance” (Ashlyn Brady)
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