Supply vs value

Anu Kirk’s blogToo Much Music:

In economic terms, the supply of music is vastly increasing – a result of dramatic drops in the costs of creation and distribution combined with many more creators.

Part of the value of music is as shared cultural reference.

I am writing this in a coffee shop. A few minutes ago a conversation broke out about the Spice Girls. Multiple tables joined in to comment on the differences between Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Baby. It was a moment of bonding and community. People who had been staring into their private worlds had a chance to meet.

This was only possible because we all knew who the Spice Girls were. When there is more music, less of it is widely known, so it can’t serve as a landmark anymore. With increased supply, the value goes down.

7 thoughts on “Supply vs value

  1. Yeah, there’s an ever-growing pool of music, more and more of it obscure (to me, anyways).

    Supporting your points:

    – Spice Girls signed to Virgin and first charted back at the dawn of public awareness of the internet, so their popularity was manufactured the good-old-fashioned way. Didn’t come through pop virality.

    – DIY music software and audio gear was available then, but not so cheap or varied as today’s.

    Leaving you with a request: what metrics exist that compare/contrast the source or catalyst of artists’ popularity?

    If the internet is a factor in certain bands’ popularity, how many and to what sales volume is it attributed? I’m guessing it’s more complicated than that, but curious if there are any interesting publicly-released studies on the topic.

  2. One more point-

    Virality has matured. Viralness used to be fueled by copying friends’ MP3s, forums, mailing lists. Then came MySpace.

    Now it’s Youtube, Facebook and others -and they’ve added a checkbox to pay for promotion.

    Viral virality is here. Virality has gone viral! Reductio ad infinitum.

    /too_much_coffee

  3. One kind of value (shared reference) goes down, others (more can feel like insiders in small scenes, possessors of refined taste) go up. But I’m not sure either effect would be all that strong, even given a vastly greater supply than exists now, due to power laws.

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