People who work behind the scenes on movie sets and concert tours know All Too Well how easy it is for their work to go unnoticed and unappreciated. But Taylor Swift is making sure her staff’s Wildest Dreams come true this Cruel Summer, by giving them massive bonuses for helping make her hugely successful Eras Tour a reality.
As part of Swift’s Christmas in July bonus spree, the pop star doled out about $75 million (US$55 million) in bonuses for the dancers, caterers, drivers, riggers and more who worked on the Eras Tour, a source told People.
One trucking company that was hired by Swift told CNN that its drivers each received a surprise check worth $130,000 (US$100,000) over the weekend as a thank-you gift, complete with a handwritten note from Swift.
Michael Scherkenbach, founder and CEO of Shomotion trucking company said nearly 50 truckers received the six-figure bonus. He called it a “life-changing” amount of money that far exceeds the standard bonus his truckers usually get.
“The typical amount is $5,000 to $10,000 each. So this large amount is unbelievable,” he told CNN.
He said his drivers were shocked when they read the amount on their cheques, adding that this kind of money could help his employees put down payments on houses or set up college funds for their kids.
“Look, fair wage doesn’t put you in a position to buy a home. But this opens up that possibility,” Scherkenbach said.
The bonuses were handed out during what was supposed to be a routine meeting ahead of one of Swift’s L.A. shows. Scherkenbach said he was going over the rundown for the week when Swift’s father, Scott Swift, made a surprise visit.
“Scott gave a speech saying that he had discussed this with Taylor and they thought that it was only right that everybody received a bonus. Taylor insisted on writing a handwritten note to each driver and (added) a wax seal on the envelope with her monogram,” he recounted.
“The drivers didn’t want to be overly rude and look at it. But one looked and thought it said $1,000, another driver saw it as $10,000 and then the third said ‘Well this has to be a joke!’” Scherkenbach said.
But the US$100,000 bonus was no joke, and each cheque and thank you note came with a corresponding tax document.
While the bonus may seem outsized, so, too, are the sacrifices that Scherkenbach’s truckers made to work this job.
“These men and women, they live on the road. They sleep during the day and work all night,” he said. “It’s a gruelling task. They leave their families, young children for weeks. For Taylor’s tour, they’ve been away from home for 24 weeks.”
But the force of Swift’s dollars haven’t just been felt by workers, but also the locations to which she’s brought the Eras tour.
“At this point, Taylor Swift is basically her own economy,” as one Vanity Fair writer puts it.
The impacts of her tour have been felt in every city she has stopped at, selling out stadiums, gracing fans with a 44-song set list spanning her nearly two-decade-long career and injecting millions of dollars into local economies with the gravity of her star power.
In a Federal Reserve report published in July, the agency found that “May was the strongest month for hotel revenue in Philadelphia since the onset of the pandemic, in large part due to an influx of guests for the Taylor Swift concerts in the city.”
Performing just two shows in Colorado led to a US$140-million boost to the state’s GDP for the year, according to a report from the Common Sense Institute.
“The totality of Taylor Swift’s U.S. tour could generate $4.6 billion in total consumer spending, larger than the GDP of 35 countries,” the report states.