Superstar Economy (reblog)

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Michael Rushton’s latest post is about the Superstar economy, something I’ve occasionally blogged about especially as it relates to the Survivorship Bias. This blurb below recalls some of the things I said in my Savior Demographic post as well as some discussions in the comments section of that post.

Sport gives an interesting perspective on superstars. How is it like the arts? First, there is a consensus as to what is ‘best’: major league baseball has better players than the minor leagues, premier league football has better teams than 3rd division, and so on. Second, broadcasts of games can reach millions. This generates a very large amount of advertising revenue, and players are able to capture a good portion of those revenues.

But the reach of sports is relatively recent – world-wide audiences, increased popularity, are things that have grown rapidly in the past few decades, but were not always in place.

All this came to mind from a (to me) fascinating photo gallery in The Guardian, of English football players, in the 1970s, at home. The photo above is of Alun Evans of Aston Villa, and, while it looks like a lovely family home, it is not what we associate today with the lifestyles of premier league athletes. Pitcher Jim Bouton, author of the brilliant memoir Ball Four, was on NPR the other day, and he pointed out his average salary (in the 1960s), playing for the Yankees, was $19,000. I did a bit of checking: the average major league baseball player’s salary in 1974 was $40,839, which is equal to $197,000 in 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars. That’s a high income, but not out of line with successful professionals in other fields like law, medicine, or business. The average MLB salary in 2014 is just under $4 million. Now some of that is due to players’ abilities to capture a higher share of the rents generated from attendance and broadcasts – of course free agency has made a difference. But most of it is due to the increased ability to capture wider audiences through broadcasts and internet, with the associated advertising revenues.

The post is well worth the read as it addresses the Met Opera and some HD cast issues I’ve brought up in the past.

When Ticket Revenue Doesn’t Equal Attendance: What’s Opera Doc?

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*THANKS TO AARON ANDERSEN FOR POINTING OUT A GLARING ERROR I MADE (see strikethrough texts below and my comment following Aaron’s)

I was reading a piece about the sharp decline of NASCAR ticket revenue and was intrigued. In NASCAR’s three publicly traded companies, all have seen a sharp decline over the years.

For example, at Daytona Beach, the International Speedway Corp.lost more than 40 percent of its ticket revenue, falling to $144 million” while the Charlotte Speedway Motorsports Inc.has lost more than a quarter of its admission revenue, falling to $130 million.” Dover Motorsports Inc. took the biggest hit “with admission revenue falling nearly 60 percent, to $13.6 million last year.

The piece gives various reasons for the decline in ticket revenue, and offers some solutions the different franchises are considering or actively doing, yet, this statement is interesting given what can amount to a loss of 57,000 (current capacity of Daytona Speedway is 147,000) butts in the seats:

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Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Classical Music, and why you might not want to follow your passion…

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I’m sure most of you have seen the recent Jim Carrey commencement speech (or at least the shortened clickbait version).  If not, here’s the short one:

While it is inspirational and uplifting if we put aside some of the issues of privilege in Carrey’s situation which I’ve been having discussions about with some folks elsewhere, this Salon.com piece, Dear graduates: Don’t follow your dreams (A commencement speech for the mediocre), by Tim Donovan reiterates what I’ve talked about regarding Survivorship Bias in two previous posts. Interestingly, Donovan’s piece isn’t specifically a response to Carrey’s speech as the post was published two days prior to the Maharishi University of Management Graduation.

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Covers vs. Originals: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

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In the previous post in this series I mentioned that I would be exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks. I brought up the phenomenon known as Survivorship Bias and how our models for success can be skewed by survivors while missing possibly more relevant data that can be learned from “failures,” which are far more numerous. In this post I’ll be discussing one of the perennial debates that local band musicians love to have, Covers vs. Originals, and how that fits into the wider debate of “Success” and modeling Rock/Pop band marketing, entrepreneurial, or gigging strategies.

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Survivorship Bias: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

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*EDITED for content, clarity, and minimization of polarizing langauge*

This is going to be the first in a series of posts exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks.

Survivorship bias also flash-freezes your brain into a state of ignorance from which you believe success is more common than it truly is and therefore you leap to the conclusion that it also must be easier to obtain. You develop a completely inaccurate assessment of reality thanks to a prejudice that grants the tiny number of survivors the privilege of representing the much larger group to which they originally belonged.

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