The word viral, pertaining to Internet phenomena, is so common that it's often easy to forget where it came from. Stories on the web spread like a virus, passing from outlet-to-outlet, infecting news feeds around the world, uncontrollably. In the past couple days, we've seen a viral story sweep through the Internet, that is notable for all the wrong reasons, proving the dangers of our voracious content consuming nature.
Apparently, T. Swift is accumulating currency quicker then she turns out hits or ditches sleazy boyfriends -- approximately $1 million a day, according to a heavily circulated Internet report released over the weekend. The claim was first launched by Express, and seared across the internet over the past few days (not unlike a surprisingly decent alt-rock cover album recently released) -- but a follow-up report by the always money-conscious Forbes is defusing that claim, and states that although Miss Swift is filthy rich, she's not raking as hard as was previously reported.
Though the initial report offers an astronomical yearly earning number of $365 million -- or a cool milli per day, assuming it's not a leap year -- Forbes writer Zach O'Malley Greenberg brings that number back down to Earth, writing that the publication estimates Miss Swift to be have earned roughly a third of the original claim. This will still likely put her on top of the music world, but it's obviously no where near the original claim, with Greenberg saying "Swift’s actual earnings total for the year will almost certainly be north of $100 million -- but not $200 million, and certainly not $300 million."
As to how so many respectable and reliable outlets got the facts all mixed up: well, as O'Malley Greenberg says, "By conflating gross tickets sales with income, and by regurgitating an endless stream of second-hand information without asking questions or consulting reliable industry figures."
So now comes the all-too-obvious question: how can we rely on trusting one source (Forbes) while decrying the culture that led so many other outlets to erroneously report incorrect findings? For starters, the original article's source boiled down to this sentence, "US financial experts who examined her portfolio said it was 'inconceivable' she will not end the year with more than $365million – about £236million – to keep up her million-a-day average." Not too exact, right?
The Forbes piece lays out where these un-referenced, anonymous "U.S. financial experts" got it wrong, stating that although the gross profit from her tour ($4 million per individual show, $280 million estimated altogether) would put her on that mil a day number -- but, as Greenberg points out, "...Robert Downey, Jr. doesn’t earn $1.5 billion if the latest Iron Man movie grosses $1.5 billion, and the same holds true for Swift (and her peers) when it comes to touring." Remember, she still has to pay vendors, agents, background dancers, hair stylists, and myriad other members who put the spectacle together. The problem was then expounded by by second-hand sources recycling the initial info, without doing any serious fact checking. That number would mean she would probably make more than Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Drake, combined -- by a considerable margin.
So what does this all mean? To use another prominent internet idiom:
Tl;Dr -- T. Swizzle is god damn rich, but not that god damn rich.
Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He thinks fortune favors the bold. And also the rich. Follow him @wilfulton
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