How to watch the Taylor Swift concert from the comfort of your sofa
Each night of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster Eras tour, superfan Tess Bohne gets dressed up in her best Swift-themed outfit, paying homage to a beloved song, a red-carpet look or an album’s anniversary. By then, she’s already researched the projected set time, along with the exact minute Swift is expected to play her much-anticipated surprise songs that are unique to each concert.
But as the onstage countdown clock approaches zero, signaling Swift’s entrance, Bohne, 32, isn’t cheering from a stadium. Instead, at home in Salt Lake City, she fires up her husband’s laptop, searches for feeds from fans holding up their phones in the crowd and begins to broadcast a livestream of Swift’s three-hour-plus set on TikTok to her 160,000 (and counting) followers.
Night after night, thousands of Swifties are gathering to watch the superstar perform their favorite songs through their 5-inch phone screens. For some with tickets to future shows, it’s a chance to preview the set list and better prepare for the big day. For others who enjoyed an earlier stop of the tour, it’s a way to relive cherished memories and keep in touch with the community.
And for fans who can’t afford the lofty ticket prices or live too far from a destination city, these unauthorized TikTok livestreams are the only way to get a glimpse of her billion-dollar-grossing, Ticketmaster-crashing tour.
Bohne, the unofficial “Eras tour cruise director,” has become a one-stop shop for fans looking to watch from home.
Cultural dominance. History-making album sales. Sold-out stadiums. Add them up, and Taylor Swift’s current moment has little precedent in pop-music history.
After attending the second show of the tour in Glendale, Ariz., Bohne watched livestreams on TikTok night after night, looking to recapture the magic of seeing Swift in the flesh. Often, the experience paled in comparison to the real thing — choppy feeds would cut in and out or drop entirely, or an overly eager fan’s earnest singing would drown out the notes from the stage. But instead of giving up, Bohne resolved to curate and improve the livestream viewing experience.
She first went live on TikTok when the tour stopped in Atlanta at the end of April. At one point, her control center included multiple iPads, allowing her to track down alternate streams and switch back and forth when videos cut off midset.
“We called it the iPad Shuffle,” Bohne said. “In the beginning it was just a place where people could see where to find these streams. It wasn’t a great concert experience. But then it turned into a seamless watching experience.”
These days, Bohne goes live from her husband’s work computer while using an iPhone and iPad to scour TikTok, as well as sites like swiftstream.gay and various Twitch accounts, for backup streams. As her reach has grown, a number of brands have reached out seeking collaboration opportunities; she’s typically more excited to hear directly from Swift fans expressing their gratitude for her work.
“I had two different people message me and say they had panic attacks during the shows, and sitting down to watch the stream has been healing for them,” Bohne said. “Others had really bad anxiety trying to track down these streams, and I’ve been able to alleviate that for them. It makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.”
Parking! Public transit! Fan chants! Friendship bracelets! Everything you need to know before you see Taylor Swift at SoFi Stadium for the L.A. stops of her Eras tour.
An essential part of the ersatz Eras-watching experience is Swiftball, a Taylor-fied fantasy football game started by Twitter user @reckedmaserati, in which fans attempt to predict outfits, surprise songs and other goings-on. Winners have received prizes ranging from Swift CDs to merchandise to handcrafted art, all of which are donated by other Swiftball players.
The most recent Swiftball on July 29 received more than 11,000 submissions on Twitter, and on a typical TikTok stream, you’ll find a jumble of fans erupting with digital cheers or boos each time an answer is revealed.
“TikTok is the pinnacle of this,” said Russ Crupnick, managing partner at marketing research and industry analysis company MusicWatch and a professor at New York University. “It helps to magnify everything that’s going on around a tour. In the old days, if you didn’t have a ticket, you didn’t get to participate. Now you can.”
At the outset of the tour, it was harder to avoid the Swift livestreams on TikTok than it was to find them. In its quest to push the most engaging live videos to its For You page, TikTok’s algorithm boosted bootleg streams of the concert nearly every night, as Swifties locked in for hours and commented away.
Eventually, TikTok removed streamers while they were live and suppressed them from the For You page.
“I feel like it’s become a lot harder to find streams,” Bohne said. “I got suspended once by TikTok, about two weeks ago, for intellectual property. That’s what’s been a little bit frustrating. I can have permission from someone who’s at the show to [use their stream], but if they’re not supposed to be streaming, I don’t know.”
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, created in 1998, protects platforms from being held liable for content that infringes on copyrighted material, as long as the platform has a mechanism for rights holders to report and take down the offending content. During the internet’s early years, it was easier for copyright holders to locate and remove such items. Now, the proliferation of content has made that game of whack-a-mole virtually impossible.
“There are dozens if not hundreds of these videos popping up,” said Tatiana Cirisano, senior music analyst at Midia Research. “There’s a sentiment that this law was built before social media really existed, and it was meant to allow for creativity, and allow platforms to host things other people had made, without worrying about liability. But this was before there was so much content posted all the time, so now, it doesn’t really work.”
Representatives for Swift and TikTok did not return a request for comment.
Not a lover of $100 parking spaces? There are plenty of ways to get to Taylor Swift’s concerts at SoFi Stadium by train or bus.
Since the pandemic shuttered live music in 2020, authorized concert livestreams have grown in popularity. Just about every major festival streams the majority of its sets on platforms such as YouTube or Twitch, and according to a report from Midia Research, the amount of people watching shows from home nearly doubled in the past two years, from 9.3% at the end of 2020 to 17.7% at the end of 2022.
Fans who consume the raw, user-generated streams on TikTok typically skew younger than YouTube audiences drawn to professional-quality recordings, but Cirisano believes that livestreams, whether authorized or bootleg, won’t cannibalize ticket sales.
“There’s obviously overlap between [ticket-buying and livestreaming audiences],” Cirisano said. “But there’s nothing that can replace the in-person concert.”
Crupnick argues that labels and music publishers shouldn’t prioritize filing copyright strikes against fans who are providing free promotion for their favorite acts. Instead, he says, the growth of user-generated livestreaming could become another negotiating chip in the copyright owners’ fight to extract more money from the social platform.
“At some point, they could take it all down, but fans will put it back up just as fast,” Crupnick said. “I think what the labels really want is fair compensation from TikTok.”
For Bohne, the TikTok livestreams are another way to feel connected to Swift.
“If I could talk to Taylor, my message to her would just be a giant thank you,” Bohne said. “She’s given us a community where we can find people who understand one another.”
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