Mike Scherkenbach, who runs a transportation company, has worked on several of Taylor Swift’s tours over the years. In the time he’s worked with the singer, he says he’s always known her to be generous to her crew — but the $100,000 bonuses she gave to each of his drivers who worked on the full U.S. leg of the Eras tour have been unprecedented, and “life-changing.” (Scherkenbach was not a driver on the tour himself.)
“She’s giving a sum of money that is life-changing for these people,” Scherkenbach, of the concert transportation company Shomotion, tells Rolling Stone. “A lot of these drivers are not homeowners, and a lump sum like this gives you the ability to put a down payment on a home. That’s what makes me really happy. That generosity is a game changer for these people.”
On Tuesday, news broke that Swift had given some $55 million in total in bonuses to her dancers, sound technicians, riggers, and truck drivers. Shomotion has worked on three of Swift’s stadium tours so far, including Eras, transporting the tour’s structures — the stage, the deck, the skeleton that everything hangs on — from city to city. Another company, Upstaging, handles the tour’s lighting, sound, and video equipment.
According to Scherkenbach, most artists of Swift’s stature typically give drivers $5,000 to $10,000 extra, making Swift’s bonus nearly 10 times the norm. And while he says his drivers have always received generous bonuses from Swift, none have been “at this magnitude.”
He’s also grateful for more than the money; he appreciates the family atmosphere of Swift’s tours. “They did the documentary on the last tour, Reputation, for Netflix, and she listed my drivers in the credits,” he says. “To put the drivers’ names in the movie credits? That shows the character of a person.” He says that she and her family members who work on the tour foster a sense of inclusivity among everyone who takes part — and that’s no small feat since Scherkenbach estimates there are about 300 people working at any particular date.
The Eras Tour officially ends in the U.S. next week when it hits Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium. Swift will be performing in Mexico and South America through the end of the year before resuming the tour with Asian, Australian, and European dates throughout 2024.
“The comments that I read that bother me the most are when they’re comparing [what she gives] to her net worth,” he says. “That’s irrelevant. There are a lot of very wealthy people who choose not to share a dime of it. We work with all kinds of wealthy people, but this is not the norm.”