Singapore’s Taylor Swift grant ‘nowhere as high’ as speculated

Singapore’s Taylor Swift grant ‘nowhere as high’ as speculated

Lawmaker says it's not just about a grant or a deal, but the overall package

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Singapore’s Taylor Swift grant ‘nowhere as high’ as speculated
Francis Arvy, 39, shows his t-shirt during a Taylor Swift fans, or Swifties, sing-a-long event ahead of Swift’s Eras Tour concert, at Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore on Friday. (Photo: Reuters)

How much did Singapore pay to be the only regional stop for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour?

It is "nowhere as high" as reports have suggested, Singapore's Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong said in an interview with Channel NewsAsia (CNA) on Friday.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was quoted as saying last month that Singapore had brokered a deal to pay the pop star up to US$3 million for each of her six concerts —  in exchange for keeping the shows exclusive to Singapore in Southeast Asia.

CNA understands the figure is closer to $2 million to $3 million in total for all six shows.

The Thai premier said he had heard about the arrangement from the concert promoter AEG. The company has not responded to CNA's repeated requests for comment.

On Feb 20, the Singapore Tourism Board said it "supported the event through a grant" but did not reveal the size of the grant or any conditions attached to it.

Tong said on Friday that concert promoters know "exactly what they're doing" when they choose where to hold shows and where not to.

"What I'll say is this: The numbers that you see online — it is nowhere as high as what is being speculated."

He added that he will speak more about this in parliament next Monday.

"With every promoter, they make their own calculations," Tong said. "They decide whether they want to come, how many nights they want to come, where else they want to go.

"The truth of the matter is [it's] not just about a grant or a deal, but the overall package."

He added that the promoters are experienced and know exactly what they want out of a venue, and there are factors that Singapore cannot control.

"They have to assess whether or not the overall package in Singapore is good enough for them to want to play here, and for how many nights," the minister said.

Taylor Swift fans, or Swifties, gather for a sing-a-long ahead of her Eras Tour concert, at Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore on Friday. (Photo: Reuters)

Swift is playing six sold-out shows in Singapore, her only stop in Asia, aside from Japan. More than 300,000 tickets have been sold, with many fans travelling from other countries to watch the concerts.

Tong said he requested that Swift's Singapore shows be at the end of any segment of her tour.

"I felt that if there was a real demand, and it was popular, then I wanted to see whether we could extend the number of nights. And in the end, it turned out well."

"We had three nights to start with and when we opened up the ticket sales, it was obviously very popular and so we had the option of a further three nights. So that's why, six nights in Singapore," he said.

CNA previously reported that demand for flights and accommodation around her concert dates increased by up to 30%. One analyst said her shows could generate as much as A$1.2 billion (US$779 million) — the estimated economic value that she brought to Melbourne.

Fans in Southeast Asia were disappointed when the singer-songwriter announced that Singapore would be her only stop in the region. After news about a deal emerged, a lawmaker in the Philippines also expressed disappointment.

Representative Joey Salceda reportedly said, "this isn't what good neighbours do" and called for his country to register its opposition with Singapore's embassy.

Other countries in the region are also said to be stepping up their game when it comes to attracting international performers to their shores.

Tong said the bottom line is that Singapore hustled a deal that works for the country. He said he had not spoken to authorities from neighbouring countries but stressed that the Taylor Swift decision was a commercial one.

"We have to look at this as — what's in the best interest of Singapore and Singaporeans. In our calculations, it is important for us to anchor the show here."

Neighbouring countries could pursue deals as well, he added. "Who's to say that they have not or had not, or will not in the future?"

If international acts such as Taylor Swift or Coldplay chose not to perform in Singapore, the questions would then be on why they did not come and whether the country was losing its attractiveness.

"I did ask myself that question too, when the opportunity came up for Taylor Swift and the others," he said.

"And so, we work hard to ensure that that question … won't be asked of us, at least for now."

The questions could also come from his three daughters. They are big fans of the singer.

Tong described himself as an "accidental Swiftie" who became interested in her music because it was always playing in their home.

"The songs really grew on me. Lyrics were great, melodies were good, and they all told a story," he said.

"And yes, I'll be going to the concert with my girls."

Photo: taylorswift INSTAGRAM

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