Singapore Says Swift Is Mine, Upsetting Its Neighbors

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ASEAN Beat | Society | Southeast Asia

Singapore Says Swift Is Mine, Upsetting Its Neighbors

Taylor Swift is playing six concerts in Singapore. That’s causing discontent in other Southeast Asia nations, which missed out.

Singapore Says Swift Is Mine, Upsetting Its Neighbors
Credit: Depositphotos

A whole bunch of Southeast Asian nations are not too happy with Singapore right now.

Blame Taylor Swift.

The reason? Singapore bagged exclusive rights to host six Swift shows during her Eras world tour, meaning the city-state’s neighbors missed out on the financial bonanza that follows Swift around like her army of Swifties, a term for devoted fans of the singer.

Even Swifties felt let down. Not only would fans from other Southeast Asian nations have to compete with locals for limited tickets, but if they did manage to nab a ticket, they’d have the added expense of traveling to one of the region’s most expensive cities to see the show.

And tickets were not easy to get. Millions of Swifties in Southeast Asia described scoring tickets to the concert as “The Great War,” (a reference to her song from her 2022 album “Midnights”) with only a limited 300,000 tickets up for grabs.

It is estimated that the six-night concert will bejewel Singapore’s economy up to SG$500 million (US$372 million). With that in mind, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin wasn’t happy about the Singaporean government’s payment of around $2 to $3 million per concert in return for exclusive rights in Southeast Asia.

The Singapore deal meant other Southeast Asian countries would lose their opportunity to showcase their culture to the world, since the “Taylor Swift Effect” also yields brand exposure moments which would endure even after the concerts. 

Unsurprisingly, it led to outcry in other Southeast Asian countries and the public at large.

Joey Salceda, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, expressed discontent with Singapore’s deal, characterizing it as being contrary to the conduct expected between good neighbors. He urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to request clarification on the agreement from the Singaporean embassy.

Singapore’s deal does throw the spotlight on other Southeast Asian countries, though. Perhaps they need to contemplate learning from past mistakes when it comes to preparing to be up to the task of hosting such events.

In other parts of Southeast Asia, observers have attributed the absence of big music tours like Swift’s to inadequate infrastructure, political upheaval, and the conservative positions of some religious groups.

Megastars have also faced challenges related to religious sensitivities from authorities. Holding a concert in some of the region’s more religious capitals entails organizers or performers having to accept the potential risks of sudden cancellations by the government under political pressure.

The absence of reliable public transport and infrastructure for megastars has been cited as one of the potential reasons to choose Singapore over other Southeast Asian cities.

Another issue is a history of inadequate crowd management.

Equally important, the issue of good governance and democratic credentials might also be another factor in the calculation. In 2014, Swift canceled a performance in Thailand not long after the military coup that same year, which toppled the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Singapore’s neighbors could also learn from the mistakes and weaknesses that already took place in similar settings of the Eras Tour, such as ticketing errors, worn-out merchandise, concerts lasting too long, and aggressive crowds. Public-private partnerships could come up with preparations that specifically target these areas in order to avoid the quagmires that occurred in other regions.

Taylor Swift’s show in Singapore has sparked a conversation throughout Southeast Asia, bringing attention to geopolitical tensions, diplomatic concerns, and the wider impact of cultural influence. With worries about Singapore’s exclusive concert deal spreading across the region, it encourages contemplation of fairness, cultural interchange, and cooperation among neighboring countries.

Southeast Asian nations can heed lessons from past errors, work together on thorough planning, and create an environment where artistic expression can flourish fairly for the benefit of the entire region.

And you’d have to love that.

Originally published under Creative Commons by 360info™.