Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

The Optimal Amount of Hipsterdom is Increasing

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For a radio station to be profitable, they have to play things there is a large audience for. Since most radio stations only have a few hundred thousand people in range, they need to play popular music in order to get a few thousand listeners.

In the age of the internet, its easy to make your music accessible worldwide, so you can still reach a huge audience even if only 1% of the population likes your music. This much-discussed phenomenon of the “long tail“, and it is one reason that it is easier to listen to obscure bands than it used to be.

Add to this the way the concerts have always worked. Going to see a popular band is expensive, going to see an obscure band is cheap. I can go see Rush for $200, or the Mountain Goats for $20.

The demand for hipster music is downward sloping: when technology makes listening to obscure bands cheaper and easier, more people will do it. And technology has in fact made this cheaper and easier. Thus, the optimal amount of hipsterdom has increased.

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Written by James Bailey

October 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

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