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Fans split over hefty price tag to hear all of Taylor Swift’s new music




“All’s fair in love and poetry,” Taylor Swift has declared in the lead up to her new album “The Tortured Poets Department.”

Including capitalism, it seems.

The billionaire songwriter will release four different versions of the album with each featuring a different bonus track.

The cost of each version on vinyl is $34.99. Standard delivery brings the total to $47.99. For fans lucky enough to nab all four versions (only the version with bonus track “The Manuscript” is still available on her website), the total at checkout will be just shy of $200. Besides vinyl, there are digital downloads for $11.99, CDs for $12.99 or cassettes for $19.99. It may feel like a high price tag, but super fans will say you can’t quantify the happiness Swift’s artistry provides.

“I’ve purchased all four,” says Sarah Chapelle, a fashion influencer and author of “Taylor Swift Style: Fashion Through the Eras.” “I consider myself a CD collector and always have. I love seeing the different lenses Taylor wants to frame her art with, and I enjoy collecting variants.”

Taylor Swift

The four bonus tracks are “The Manuscript,” “The Bolter,” “The Albatross” and “The Black Dog.” Each version comes in a different color with a different cover. The phrases on the backs indicate fans are in store for a heartbreak album: “I love you, it’s ruining my life,” “You don’t get to tell me about sad,” “Am I allowed to cry?” and “Old habits die screaming.”

“I consider fandom a ‘choose your own adventure’ opportunity,” Chapelle says. “It’s up to the individual to decide which aspects they want to engage in that emotionally spark joy and financially align with their circumstances.”

The variants aren’t a new concept in Swift economics. She had six vinyls of “Midnights” (all had the same 13 tracks), five of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” (one of these albums had the bonus track, “Sweeter Than Fiction”) and 10 of “Folklore” (all had the same 17 tracks).


See an extensive guide to her entire vinyl discography here.

Fans have had mixed reactions to the multiple versions on social media, and it’s not the first time they’ve debated the price of being a Taylor Swift fan. In December, Swift released a rental version of the Eras Tour movie, asking Swifties to pay $19.89 to watch the movie for 48 hours. Next week, the movie will be released on Disney+ with her song “Cardigan” added and four new acoustic songs (including “Maroon”).

@_karmaisagod said on Twitter: “I’m over the cash grab of the multiple variants. It’s ridiculous. I’m not spending money on one vinyl just for another to drop. She’s a billionaire.”

@fran_cesco828 said, “Now I’m poor, but happy.”

On Reddit, one commentator said, “Taylor doing this is giving your richest friend Venmo requesting you $3.00.”

An economist weighs in

Davis will have the four versions of “Tortured Poets” for sale on April 19, so those who didn’t get an online presale will have a second shot. He said the reason Swift does different versions is not just to capitalize on high demand, but also because physical sales help boost an artist on the charts.


“The thing about record collecting, and it seems to be the case with a lot of the Swifties, is they want all the versions,” he says. “If you buy all four versions, you’re buying four records.”

To ring in the New Year, Swift dethroned Elvis with the most weeks spent atop the Billboard 200 albums chart. Davis even hinted, as in the case of “Midnights,” there may be more variants of “Tortured Poets” coming.

“There’s often more variants,” he says. “In fact, with ‘Midnights’ — after the record was already out — a couple weeks later Universal solicited us and offered us the direct version that was sold on Taylor’s website.”


Kathryn Bender, an economics professor at the University of Delaware who teaches a course on Swift, echos Chapelle’s remarks and says the price tag isn’t as high as it could be. An economist can determine that by looking at resale value. The album hasn’t been released, and there are already sellers on eBay offering a package of all four versions for $275.

“Taylor knows there are people who have a high willingness to pay and will buy all four editions,” Bender says. “She also makes it so someone with a lower willingness to pay can just buy the one album.”


Bender could do an entire course on the economics of the four versions of “Tortured Poets,” and she would start by explaining “diminishing marginal utility,” which is “as consumption increases, the marginal utility derived from each additional unit declines.” She uses Olive Garden breadsticks as an example.

“Your first breadstick, you might be hungry,” she says. “It helps satiate your hunger. The second breadstick maybe tastes really good. The third one’s just kind of oil and salt, but it still tastes delicious. The fourth one you might not really want anymore. We might get $500 worth of enjoyment out of that first album. The second album is going to bring us a little less happiness and so on.”

Lesson two would be price discrimination, which refers to charging customers different prices for the same product or service.

“Think of going to the movies,” Bender says. “There is a price for people over 65, a price for children, a price for college students and a price for military vets, right? And so that’s one way we look at price discrimination. There’s another way with Costco. Essentially if you’re somebody who’s willing to make a bulk purchase, then you’re going to pay a lower per unit price.”

Swift has a fan base incomparable to most artists, and she is a savvy businesswoman. Bender thinks it’s likely Swift’s team would have discussed balancing profits and making her music accessible. At the end of the day, the economics professor points to a basic principle of capitalism: choice.

“Nobody is forcing you to go buy the album” Bender says. “We are all free to make our own choice about that. And if you’re a parent who’s frustrated that you have to buy this for your child, the cost is still less than the value of your child’s happiness.”


Vinyl sales affect charts and boost small businesses

In East Nashville, Grimey’s New & Preloved Music is a vinyl record store looking to celebrate 25 years in business. When Swift was named “Record Store Day Ambassador” in 2022, shop co-owner Doyle Davis painted a mural of the singer to honor her contributions to physical music sales.

“Taylor’s brilliant,” he says. “She not only streams extraordinarily well, but she is an artist who does not ignore the physical market. A lot of artist don’t release a vinyl until a year after the fact when the market has cooled down. I admire and respect Taylor for offering us a piece of the game right from the get-go.”

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