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Why the Singapore government struck a ‘deal’ to host Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour

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NewsExplainedExplained GlobalWhy the Singapore government struck a ‘deal’ to host Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour
Why the Singapore government struck a ‘deal’ to host Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour
Politicians from Thailand and the Philippines also commented on the deal, which led the American pop superstar to make only one Southeast Asian stop on her billion-dollar tour. Here’s why.
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Written by Rishika Singh
March 9, 2024 12:30 IST

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Taylor Swift’s fans, or Swifties, pose for a picture at the National Stadium during Swift’s Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024.Taylor Swift’s fans, or Swifties, pose for a picture at the National Stadium during Swift’s Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. (REUTERS/Caroline Chia/File Photo)

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently defended the deal his government offered to American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, to ensure that she exclusively performed in Singapore as part of her ongoing global tour.

Called “The Eras Tour”, each concert is a nearly three-and-a-half-hour-long show that features hits from the different eras of her career. It has been making waves with the record number of sales and audiences it has attracted across the world.

Beginning in March 2023, the tour is set to go on till the end of this year. In December 2023, it grossed around $1 billion – making it the highest-grossing music tour of all time.

However, a few of Singapore’s Southeast Asian neighbours, such as Thailand and the Philippines, have expressed their criticism of the deal. We explain why.

On Tuesday (March 5), while on a visit to Australia, the Singapore PM spoke about the issue at a press conference.

“Our agencies negotiated an arrangement with her (Swift) to come to Singapore and perform and to make Singapore her only stop in Southeast Asia. And there was a certain incentive provided to her from our Tourism DevelopmentFund, and a deal was reached,” he said.

Saying it had turned out to be a “very successful arrangement”, he added, “I don’t see that as being unfriendly.” A Philippines lawmaker named Joey Salceda had earlier demanded that his country’s government should lodge a formal protest against Singapore. He said, “This isn’t what good neighbours do”.

Last month, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin also spoke about the deal. According to Singapore’s ChannelNews Asia (CNA), he said that “the Singapore government offered around $2 million to $3 million per show in exchange of exclusivity.” However, CNA added that the figure might have been the total sum paid for the six shows set to take place in the city-state in early March.

A recent statement from a spokesperson in Thavisin’s office denied that the PM’s comments were critical. “Singapore’s proposal was an approach that shows they dared to think and dared to do it, and that successfully made Taylor Swift’s team agree to have the exclusive performance in Singapore, the only country in the region. That has benefited the country,” it said.

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