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Comparing Phish Ticket Sales With Taylor Swift Shows Power of the Jam Band's Fandom

Phish has a 'crazy superfan to passive listener ratio,' music industry expert Rob Abelow said.

Phish/Taylor Swift
Source: MEGA

Phish's tickets sales at the Sphere were compared with Taylor Swift's numbers in a lively Twitter thread.

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A music industry expert has compiled some data points which put the fervor of Phish's fanbase into perspective. Rob Abelow, creator of the Where's Music Going newsletter, compared the jam band's ticket sales and Spotify listenership metrics to those of pop star Taylor Swift in a tweet on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

He noted that Phish has roughly 400,000 monthly listeners and managed to sell 80,000 tickets for their upcoming four-night run at the Sphere in less than six minutes. They're now going for as much as $700 on the secondary market.

That means the number of fans who bought tickets to the April shows in Las Vegas are equivalent to roughly 20% of the band's Spotify listenership, he said.

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Swift has Phish beat when it comes to raw Spotify numbers. Her nearly 110 million monthly listenership is nearly 300 times larger than the jam band's.

She managed to sell 5 million tickets for her record-breaking Eras tour, which included shows in 68 North American cities, Abelow said. This means the number of people who attended that leg of the tour is only equivalent to about 4% of Swift's Spotify listenership.

Phish's numbers at the Sphere are "like Taylor Swift selling 22 million tickets for a 4-night run," Abelow said.

"This is a WILD audience shape. Crazy superfan to passive listener ratio," he added. "It's why they've outlasted so many others. They're bulletproof."

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The Sphere
Source: MEGA

The jam band sold 80,000 tickets for a four-night run at the Las Vegas venue in less than six minutes.

Commenters added some important pieces of context to Abelow's analysis.

"Jambands have their own streaming ecosystem," one said. "Since recordings are based around live concerts not studio albums it makes (it) hard to navigate their back catalog in Spotify."

Another user made a similar point: "Spotify numbers are highly skewed because most Phish fans have dozens and dozens, or in many cases, hundreds of shows downloaded and play through iTunes or other mediums."

In his response, Abelow acknowledged the band has its own proprietary streaming service called Live Phish. For $10 a month, fans get access to dozens of high quality soundboard recordings and audio from every show since 2002.

"Why take $0.003/stream when you can just take the whole (damn) thing?" Abelow asked.

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Source: MEGA

Phish has a 'crazy superfan to passive listener ratio,' music industry expert Rob Abelow said.

Former Spotify employee Meredith Croy said Phish isn't alone when it comes to these kinds eye-popping of metrics.

"The discrepancy is more (or just as) common as you’d think - most notably w/jam bands & EDM but also lots of bands w/passionate fans that predate streaming - we had huge presale successes w/Pedro the Lion & Sleater Kinney for example," she said.

"Those audiences didn’t meet Spotify’s 'minimum' for fans first presales (used to run the program). Cracking the connection btw user actions & volume and correlating that to ticket sales would be game changing for the biz. Phish will likely always be an outlier."

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Taylor Swift
Source: MEGA

Commenters noted that these surprising metrics aren't completely unique to Phish.

Another commenter noted that Swift might have similar numbers if she did a run at an iconic venue.

"Two things remain true: 1) phish fans will always die hard, and 2) taylor sold 2.4 million eras tickets in a day—i bet metrics would be crazy too if she were to sell sphere tickets," they said.

"It would be instant. Her audience is massive and deep," Abelow replied. "It’s just crazy to see a band do it with 1/100th the general awareness."


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