Skip to main content


Taylor Swift

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Since breaking through in 2006, initially as a country singer, Taylor Swift has sold more than 200 million records, won 11 Grammys and acquired an army of loyal “Swifties”. The 31-year-old is estimated to be worth more than £260m, making her one of the highest-earning musicians in the world.

I thought nobody made money from music these days?
Artists make less from online streaming than they did from physical sales, but touring remains lucrative. Swift’s 2015 tour promoting her album 1989 – named for her year of birth – grossed $250m for 85 dates and was seen by almost 2.3 million people. The follow-up gigs for Reputation in 2018 were even more lucrative. They brought in $345m, making this the highest-grossing tour in American history.

She gets something from sales and streams, too, I expect.
Yes, except for a few years from late 2014, when she pulled her songs from streaming services as a protest against their low rates. Apple eventually backed down, agreeing to pay artists for streams during customers’ free trial periods. Swift quietly returned to Spotify in 2017 and is now available everywhere.

Hence the deals with Apple?
She’s too canny to let a little earnings dispute get in the way of more earnings. After resolving the difficulties, the tech giant signed up for an ad campaign where Swift worked out in the gym to an Apple Music playlist. Drake’s sales apparently rose 430% after his song Jumpman was included. Swift has also struck deals with Keds, Capital One, Diet Coke and Covergirl.

Must be tiring.
Yes, and she started young. Swift signed her first deal at 15 and wrote Lucky You when she was 12. At least she travels in comfort. Last May it was reported that she had sold one of her private jets, leaving her with just her 18-seater Dassault Falcon 900. Even pop royalty only need one private jet in a pandemic.

Lucky her. Any vices?
Property. Swift has seven homes worth an estimated $81m in four US states: two in Nashville; a mansion in Beverly Hills, formerly owned by Samuel Goldwyn; a beach house in Watch Hill, Rhode Island; and three apartments on the same block in TriBeCa, New York. Her fans have renamed the area “Taybeca”. Despite that, Swift spent most of lockdown in London, at her British actor boyfriend Joe Alwyn’s flat in glamorous Crouch End.

Not much space there to shake it off in, I imagine.
No. They have apparently moved to a £7m house in celeb-friendly Primrose Hill. It’s a rental.

And she doesn’t own her own albums any more, either?
In 2019 the music mogul Scooter Braun spent $300m on a company that held the master rights to Swift’s first six albums, acrimoniously swiping them from under her nose. She has accused him of “incessant, manipulative bullying”. To get around the ownership issue, she is re-recording the albums, starting with 2008’s Fearless, the new version of which has just been released.

Doesn’t sound like much of a love story.
She gave fellow musician Kesha $250,000 to help with a producer dispute of her own. But it’s not all about bad blood. Swift has given millions to support the victims of natural disasters. Then there’s the Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which she funded to the tune of $4m. She has also been known to support the odd GoFundMe, including $10,000 for a service dog for an autistic boy.

So the race is sometimes to the Swift, after all.