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Alan Krueger, a former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, uses the music industry, from superstar artists to music executives, from managers to promoters, as a way in to explain key principles of economics, and the forces shaping our economic lives. The music industry is a leading indicator of today's economy; it is among the first to be disrupted by Alan Krueger, a former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, uses the music industry, from superstar artists to music executives, from managers to promoters, as a way in to explain key principles of economics, and the forces shaping our economic lives. The music industry is a leading indicator of today's economy; it is among the first to be disrupted by the latest wave of technology, and examining the ins and outs of how musicians create and sell new songs and plan concert tours offers valuable lessons for what is in store for businesses and employees in other industries that are struggling to adapt. Drawing on interviews with leading band members, music executives, managers, promoters, and using the latest data on revenues, royalties, streaming tour dates, and merchandise sales, Rockonomics takes readers backstage to show how the music industry really works--who makes money and how much, and how the economics of the music industry has undergone a radical transformation during recent decades. Before digitalization and the ability to stream music over the Internet, rock stars made much of their income from record sales. Today, income from selling songs has plummeted, even for superstars like James Taylor and Taylor Swift. The real money nowadays is derived from concert sales. In 2017, for example, Billy Joel earned $27.4 million from his live performances, and less than $2 million from record sales and streaming. Even Paul McCartney, who has written and recorded more number one songs than anyone in music history, today, earns 80 percent of his income from live concerts. Krueger tackles commonly asked questions: How does a song become popular? And how does a new artist break out in today's winner-take-all economy? How can musicians and everyday workers earn a living in the digital economy?


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Alan Krueger, a former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, uses the music industry, from superstar artists to music executives, from managers to promoters, as a way in to explain key principles of economics, and the forces shaping our economic lives. The music industry is a leading indicator of today's economy; it is among the first to be disrupted by Alan Krueger, a former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, uses the music industry, from superstar artists to music executives, from managers to promoters, as a way in to explain key principles of economics, and the forces shaping our economic lives. The music industry is a leading indicator of today's economy; it is among the first to be disrupted by the latest wave of technology, and examining the ins and outs of how musicians create and sell new songs and plan concert tours offers valuable lessons for what is in store for businesses and employees in other industries that are struggling to adapt. Drawing on interviews with leading band members, music executives, managers, promoters, and using the latest data on revenues, royalties, streaming tour dates, and merchandise sales, Rockonomics takes readers backstage to show how the music industry really works--who makes money and how much, and how the economics of the music industry has undergone a radical transformation during recent decades. Before digitalization and the ability to stream music over the Internet, rock stars made much of their income from record sales. Today, income from selling songs has plummeted, even for superstars like James Taylor and Taylor Swift. The real money nowadays is derived from concert sales. In 2017, for example, Billy Joel earned $27.4 million from his live performances, and less than $2 million from record sales and streaming. Even Paul McCartney, who has written and recorded more number one songs than anyone in music history, today, earns 80 percent of his income from live concerts. Krueger tackles commonly asked questions: How does a song become popular? And how does a new artist break out in today's winner-take-all economy? How can musicians and everyday workers earn a living in the digital economy?

30 review for Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us about Economics and Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Furman

    No one else could have written a book with this range. Rockonomics draws on economic theory, standard government surveys, proprietary administrative data, a unique survey fielded by the author, and interviews with a range of people in the music industry. It covers just about every aspect of the music industry. The book focuses on the economics of the music industry, including a number of familiar themes like how streaming revenue is rising but recorded music primarily drives touring revenue, how No one else could have written a book with this range. Rockonomics draws on economic theory, standard government surveys, proprietary administrative data, a unique survey fielded by the author, and interviews with a range of people in the music industry. It covers just about every aspect of the music industry. The book focuses on the economics of the music industry, including a number of familiar themes like how streaming revenue is rising but recorded music primarily drives touring revenue, how live ticket prices are set, how merchandise is marketed, how streaming is changing the makeup of songs, and more. Relatively little of this was revelatory, as someone who only casually follows these issues I knew most of it, but all of it was definitive and authoritative. A secondary purpose of the book (and it is secondary, notwithstanding the subtitle) is to use the music industry to illustrate a number of economic concepts, like superstars and inequality, the behavioral economics that leads stars to underprice their tickets for fear of sending the wrong signal, the economics of incomplete contracts, the endogenaity of preferences, and even simple demand curves--but in advertising revenue. It is hard not to linger over the references in the book to artists that died prematurely, including some sympathetic references to them dying at their own hands. This, plus the broad range of Rockonomics, makes it all the harder to accept the fact that Alan Krueger will not write another book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    Rockonomics, Alan B. Krueger, 2019, 325pp, ISBN 9781524763718 A light introduction to the money aspect of the music business. See also:Kurt Dahl, entertainment lawyer and musician: advice at https://lawyerdrummer.com/ All You Need to Know About the Music Business, Donald S. Passman, 9th edition 2015, ISBN 1501104896 The Economics of Music, Peter Tschmuck, 2017, ISBN 1911116088 EXTREME INEQUALITY There are millions of very able musicians who can't earn a living at it. And a minuscule number very highl Rockonomics, Alan B. Krueger, 2019, 325pp, ISBN 9781524763718 A light introduction to the money aspect of the music business. See also:Kurt Dahl, entertainment lawyer and musician: advice at https://lawyerdrummer.com/ All You Need to Know About the Music Business, Donald S. Passman, 9th edition 2015, ISBN 1501104896 The Economics of Music, Peter Tschmuck, 2017, ISBN 1911116088 EXTREME INEQUALITY There are millions of very able musicians who can't earn a living at it. And a minuscule number very highly paid. The economy as a whole increasingly resembles this. The top 1% of performers take 60% of all concert revenue (p. 14.(view spoiler)[ Counting only concerts big enough to be on the radar of industry bigwigs. Surely an infinitesimal fraction, if it were to include all the "live music tonite" gigs at the average bar, the band playing for drinks and tips. (hide spoiler)] ) “PRAISE THE INVISIBLE HAND! IGNORE THE IRON HEEL YOU SEE!” The note the author doesn't hit is, monopoly profit comes of appropriating what should be the commons, and charging us all rent. We all have to buy the same software not because it's good or fashionable but so it works with everybody else's. Laws perpetuating monopoly rent aren't what "we" choose, as the author has it: our representatives don't even /read/ the (lobbyist-written) laws before enacting them. What would be felony graft in a civilized country is constitutionally-protected speech in the U.S. So the analogy misses some key marks. The author's refusal to use the word, "monopoly," calling them, "superstar firms," (chapter 4) ignores the political causes of inequality we suffer. The author has drunk much of the Kool-Aid of his profession. He glibly refers to “the law of supply and demand,” as if we lived in the Econ-101 free-market fantasy, “many buyers, many sellers, no one has control over price.” He speaks as if inequality results from natural laws in the natural world, and can only be accepted. To the contrary, markets are artifacts, created politically—and are not free to all but have been captured by the powerful, to extract wealth from the rest of us. He shows no awareness that the endpoint is, “The supply of slave labor has decreased the demand for free labor. I don’t have to pay you a living wage.” And, “I control the supply of what you need. You’ll pay what I ask.” That inequality is a political artifact and requires political combat, is foreign to this economist’s thinking. He admires the "industrial transformation" of producing music in a disused Polish textile factory (p. 195)—ignoring that we’re /not/ “post-industrial”: clothes are still being made, by ever-more-politically-powerless people. Their degradation erodes dignity and wages everywhere. The author is a fan of letting the market determine royalties, rather than trying to legislate a fair level. (pp. 229–230) In practice this means the market dominator gets his way. And how are millions of musicians to negotiate with thousands of radio stations? The author loves the words, "supply" and "demand" so much, he bolds them! (e.g. p. 243) As if they're immutable and profound. In truth, the supplier of a concert /chooses/ the supply: number of shows, size of venue, staging for seating in what portion of arena. (Thomas Piketty and Joseph Stiglitz are less poisoned by market-worship than the average economist. For lessons of the past, learned with workers' blood, most economists ignore: There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America, Philip Dray, 2010, ISBN 0385526296.) Sometimes he blithers: … music continues to provide a means of upward mobility. … In 2016, 26.5% of the musicians in the Billboard Top 100 were from the bottom 10% of families by income. … Musicians with a top 100 song are likely to reach the top 1% of income earners that year, so a career in music is associated with a greater bottom-to-top mobility than in the economy overall. (p. 73) No. Fifty-three people making it into the top 1% of a country this size is not upward mobility. He does say that among those whose main work is as a musician, median yearly income from all sources is $20,000. (view spoiler)[(Only 213,738 workers! p. 52.) (hide spoiler)] Only about 1 in 1,000 are in the top 1% of all incomes. This is NOT upward mobility! The author admires small cities' massive arts-complex projects "in an effort to rejuvenate the city and retain population." (p. 42) Usually the city is worse off for building the white elephant. See Michael Moore, Roger and Me, about Flint, Michigan. “Build it and they will come” was from a fantasy movie (Field of Dreams). Madison, Wisconsin did an expensive rebuilding of its civic center, to make a posher playground for the opera set. It's a continual drain on city finances, and obligates the mayor to try to get acts for it. And the average Joe is priced out of what formerly was a civic center for everyone. The author gives a shout-out to In Praise of Commercial Culture, Tyler Cowen (Yay capitalism! It creates a very few winners, some of whom buy cool stuff, and millions of losers, all of whom suffer and some make music! Cool! p. 5) MATH? WHATEVER. The author gets even simple math wrong:(view spoiler)[ He tells us, musical preferences followa /power law distribution/ of popularity—the popularity of the most popular item is a multiple of the next-most-popular item, and so on down the line. (p. 87)If he’s saying anything here, he’s saying that for, say, Fig. 4.2, “Number of Music Streams of Top 2,500 Artists in 2016, by Rank” (p. 89), number of streams, S, at successive ranks, R and R + 1, is a constant ratio:S(R)/S(R + 1) = constant, for all RHe's describing an exponential distribution:S ∝ e⁻ᵏᴿ, k constantSo plotting log S vs. R should be a straight line:log S = −kR + constantNot even close: wolframalpha.com/input/?i=plot+(1,log...For low R, log(streams) drops off very steeply with successive R; at high R, log(streams) is nearly constant with successive R. The actual distribution becomes much flatter at high R than does the exponential distribution the author describes. If instead he meant to say that streams, S, is proportional to rank, R, to a power,S ∝ R⁻ᵏ, k constant,then log(S) plotted against log(R) would be a straight line, log S = −k log R + constantA reasonable fit: wolframalpha.com/input/?i=linear+fit+...This could be described by saying, each /doubling/ of rank reduces streams by the same ratio. For $28.00 hardcover, Professor, say what you mean. Plot on scales that reveal rather than conceal how your variables relate to each other. A few general words about power laws from Mark Newman ( goodreads.com/author/show/90676 ): https://rss.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/d... More details: “Power laws, Pareto distributions and Zipf’s law”: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/c... Krueger tells us that people taking advice from other people on what to listen to, creates this sort of power-law distribution of popularity. He says nothing about why, but points us to Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World, David Easley, 2010, ISBN 0521195330, chapter 18, pp. 447–455, here: cs.cornell.edu/home/kleinber/networks... The whole book is here: cs.cornell.edu/home/kleinber/networks... (hide spoiler)] NOT MUCH MONEY IN MUSIC Krueger tells us there's not much money in music. Figure 10.1, p. 234 shows 49 countries' wholesale spending on recorded music vs. GDP. For all sizes of economy, these countries averaged $5 spent on recordings per $50,000 of GDP. Presumably that's on physical media (mostly CDs), now less than 20% of the total: most is streaming now. (Figs. 2.1, 2.2, pp. 30, 31). Those countries that spent a slightly-higher fraction of GDP on recordings are the wealthy countries. Most countries are too poor to even be in the data set. Even the wealthy countries spend shockingly little on recordings. They spend more on streaming and on concerts. Even Paul McCartney earned 82% of his income from live shows in 2017 (p. 37) But even all told it's a /tiny/ fraction of income. Americans spend more on potato chips than on recorded music (p. 24) (Strangely, the author's data don't include spending on musical instruments, nor employment of music-store clerks, but do include sponsors paying musicians to promote their products, and do include parking at concerts. pp. 27–28.) ROCK STARS ARE NOT DEAD ISBN 9781473541764 Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Star, 1955-1994, opined that never again would a musical act fill a football stadium. To the contrary, says the present author, concerts grossing millions of dollars each are still happening, and not showing signs of dying anytime soon. WE KINDA SORTA MAYBE KNOW A LITTLE As one insider said, “there is a limited amount of transparency in our business.” (p. 29) Most of the data the author presents don’t really exist—much of it is guesses. The author shares some of what he does have at https://rockonomics.com/ and https://themira.org/ (p. 4) STREAMING 33.2M different songs were streamed in 2017. Spotify has 35M tracks in its catalog. It would take many lifetimes to hear them all. (p. 86) SCALPERS Scalpers take $1M–$1.5M per Springsteen or U2 show, to fans' cost. (p. 143) QUIZ TIME The book answers questions such as goodreads.com/trivia/work/65385847-ro...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dubi

    Princeton economics professor Alan Krueger examines the music industry, hoping to demonstrate the study of economics through the prism of popular music, and hoping to draw parallels to the economy at large. The result is more of a book about the music business than about economics, but I wager that most readers are more interested in the business than in economics, so consider that a success. I may be an exception to the rule, having come close to getting a doctorate in economics myself -- Will B Princeton economics professor Alan Krueger examines the music industry, hoping to demonstrate the study of economics through the prism of popular music, and hoping to draw parallels to the economy at large. The result is more of a book about the music business than about economics, but I wager that most readers are more interested in the business than in economics, so consider that a success. I may be an exception to the rule, having come close to getting a doctorate in economics myself -- Will Baumol, who is cited in this book several times, was supposed to be my committee chair until I decided not to proceed with my dissertation. But that was forty years ago, an interval in which my career had nothing whatsoever to do with economics (or music). Still, I was hoping to see the application of economic theory to music -- I pictured a model of monopolistic competition where product differentiation in the form of signing and promoting unique artists and genres allowed suppliers to force consumers onto the inelastic portion of their demand curves, given the high utility consumers place on live and recorded music once they become fans of particular artists and styles. If that last paragraph made your eyes and minds glaze over, perhaps that explains why Krueger made the wise choice not to go there -- except that he does talk about how artists are positioned as unique, as imperfect substitutes for each other, a key element of product differentiation. Unfortunately, despite devoting an entire chapter to the gratification music gives us, Krueger doesn't place that within the context of consumer demand -- the concept of utility is in fact what underlies demand, even more so in the context of a experiential rather than tangible good like music. The various factors that shape utility in music makes demand potentially inelastic (inelastic demand allows suppliers to charge higher prices without dampening demand all that much) -- to me, that's a big part of how technology has affected pricing for live and recorded music. Much is made of the music business being superstar driven, and that's a shame, because it really isn't. I live in New York, where there are three arenas in the area and half a dozen large concert halls, so there's maybe an average of one superstar event a day plus one or two next-level events. And then there are dozens of small theaters and hundreds of clubs that operate Every. Single. Night. Of the year. In terms of the number of people performing, watching, and working, and the amount of business activity generated if you include food and drink, transportation, etc., I bet the superstar and next-level events are a drop in the bucket. In Nashville, performers have to pay clubs to play. People go to Chicago and New Orleans as well as Nashville and Brooklyn just to go club hopping. LA, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philly, Portland -- just go down the list, the everyday music scene swamps the superstar events in sheer magnitude. Similarly, one hundred miles west of NYC, in Bethlehem PA, there is probably an average of one star event a month (if that), but there is a vibrant music scene at lower levels that translates into dozens of events each day within an easily drive-able radius. As an amateur musician who spends time in that area, even the bottom-most-level open-mic business that allows me to pretend to be a musician is a bigger deal than superstar concerts. The City Winery model is spreading all over the country. PACs are everywhere. Old theaters in relatively small cities and towns are being renovated into community theaters that mix concerts with other cultural events. There are so many of these venues in my area that I can't keep track of them all. Meanwhile, I almost never go to an arena concert, and never ever go to a stadium, not with all the other choices I have -- not worth the hassle or cost. This is a golden age for concert-goers, and that has nothing at all to do with superstar performers. Krueger discusses literally none of this. He devotes just about a whole chapter to music in China, but says absolutely nothing about the grass-roots live music scene that is ubiquitous in America, still the largest market in the world. Put together a Leontief input-output model (hardcore economics again -- I got to study and work a little with Nobel winner Leontief back in the day) of the club scene, showing how music radiates out into various areas of the economy via tourism, food service, transportation, fashion, etc., and this is a huge, possibly dominant segment of the industry that gets no attention in this book. I have one other problem with the superstar model. My older daughter was in youth theater, went to college for drama, and my younger daughter was an elite youth soccer player, now playing in college. Their dreams were winning Oscars and Olympic gold. But the more realistic goal was easier to envision -- all their teachers, coaches, trainers, choreographers, etc., their dream was Oscar and gold too, but they found productive lives within the economy in their areas of greatest passion at other levels. There is more to the music industry than U2, Springsteen, and Taylor Swift. So much more that the superstar model actually fails, except at the tabloid level where a high school drama teacher and club soccer coach aren't going to compete with Bruno Mars. Nevertheless, there is much to like about Rockonomics. I especially like the sidebar interviews with industry players. And I like that much of the analysis was backed up by empirical evidence and not just anecdotal evidence -- although the anecdotes are a lot fun anyway. There is a high probability that my critique is unique to me -- and yet, none of my critiques diminish what is here, I only wish there was more. Hopefully there are economists out there ready to build on what Krueger has started.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Athan Tolis

    I loved loved loved Rockonomics, it makes my heart break that Alan Krueger will not live to see the success this book is guaranteed to have with the general public. Yes, it’s an exaggeration to say you will learn economics from this. But if you’re a loser like me, who knows the economics and wants to find out about the music industry, you’re in for a treat. The author was basically friends with all these people who work in music and they told him how their industry works. The summary is as follows I loved loved loved Rockonomics, it makes my heart break that Alan Krueger will not live to see the success this book is guaranteed to have with the general public. Yes, it’s an exaggeration to say you will learn economics from this. But if you’re a loser like me, who knows the economics and wants to find out about the music industry, you’re in for a treat. The author was basically friends with all these people who work in music and they told him how their industry works. The summary is as follows: • it pays nothing, except to (literally) a handful of artists, who benefit from two facts that make this a “superstar” market: first, scale (you can reach many people) and second they are unique; they would regardless be financially better off as superstars in any other business you care to name, because… • for the benefits it gives us, music is dirt cheap • music is totally insignificant as an industry both in terms of total income generated (USD 15 billion per annum in the US and comfortably under 50 worldwide) and in terms of percent of population employed • more than half the money is made from live performances, because recorded music (CDs, downloads and streaming, these days) brings very little compared to what it did before music became digital and is often a loss-leader (Apple, for example, uses it to sell gadgets) • studios bet on artists, but not even two out of ten albums produced ever made money • pundits thought the new technology would make it so the market for music would “become less concentrated and more diversified” and “the shape of the distribution would tilt away from superstars” (p. 93); we’re still waiting • that’s because to succeed, you of course need talent, determination etc. but chiefly you need luck • you need luck, because success in music has always been impossible in the absence of large snowball effects and music these days spreads through social media, which are all about measuring these snowball effects in real time and jumping on them • should you get lucky enough to score a hit, you need a manager to negotiate with the studios and to keep your costs down and maybe even to get you a bunch of revenue streams on top of your live performance revenues, to price discriminate among your fans, to sell some “merch” (short for merchandise) etc. • you’ll need a lawyer to negotiate your rights, which by the way are very complicated and uneven from country to country and from medium to medium within each country • intellectual rights to music are justified on the basis of three more-or-less sound economic arguments, but Krueger actually says fairness and justice for the people who make the music is an even bigger reason to give them the rights to music they’d probably make for free and in the absence of any copyright laws • that said, copyright laws do result in more and better music and there are economic studies to prove this; the converse also holds, with very little music of note coming out of countries that do not protect musicians • who is Drake and why have I never heard of him? • China (the only boring chapter) But it ain’t about that at all! I’m doing the book a grand disservice by merely listing the main points, because Rockonomics actually isn’t about these points. Rather, they are the background noise the author’s hyperactive brain is making as he’s taking you on tour. That’s what’s going on here. As you’re reading it you’re basically touring the music industry alongside Alan Krueger, interviewing all these artists who are his friends and jumping from cool trivia to cool observation. Comfortably the best part is trying to identify song titles in the text. It’s highly possible that every line in the book is plucked from a song. My (rather obvious) favorite is on page 170. Won’t spoil it for you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Loring Wirbel

    Let's get one thing out of the way: This is neither the sort of exhaustive coverage of recorded and performance popular music that David Byrne gave us in How Music Works, nor is it the popularization of macroeconomic theory and pop culture provided in light-hearted studies such as Dubner & Levitt's Freakonomics. Nevertheless, it's a fun and fact-filled study of how modern music shifted from physical artifacts to streaming, and what that means to the business behind the star-making machinery. I g Let's get one thing out of the way: This is neither the sort of exhaustive coverage of recorded and performance popular music that David Byrne gave us in How Music Works, nor is it the popularization of macroeconomic theory and pop culture provided in light-hearted studies such as Dubner & Levitt's Freakonomics. Nevertheless, it's a fun and fact-filled study of how modern music shifted from physical artifacts to streaming, and what that means to the business behind the star-making machinery. I gave it a full four stars because Krueger, Obama's former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, has taken careful note of the economics of live performance and of streaming services, and has given us the only popular music economic study that covers the world beyond 2015. What Krueger tells us about popular music gives us plenty of clues as to how vertical economies in various market sectors operate, as well as national economies interacting on a global level. Nevertheless, I'm going to have to give the book two serious caveats, one tactical and negligible, the other strategic and in many senses a potentially fatal flaw in the book's vision. On the tactical side, Krueger wants to drill some fairly pedestrian concepts in to his audience, who may not be familiar with economics (or with pop music) at all, and it can make the writing a little too light and fluffy at times. If you compare this to Byrne's work, the Talking Heads singer remains breezy and on-topic throughout his book, yet introduces more complex topics in less space while never talking down to his audience. Krueger may have taught too many undergraduate economics courses in his life, but we can forgive him some occasional moments of tedium. The bigger problem is related to the old bumper sticker produced by Adbusters magazine that said "Economists must learn to subtract." In this case, global economists must learn to look beyond the global superstars of the music business. Because Krueger has dealt with power laws and the economies of scale his entire life, only those phenomena that scale exponentially interest him. Yes, he admits that the wild success of streaming (which has surprisingly made money for even small independent artists, showing up the absurdity of the few anti-streaming curmudgeons out there, like Lucy Kaplansky), is the classical "tide that rises all boats," since the current rate of some 2 trillion songs being streamed a year makes it more likely people will hear some very obscure artists. Yet Krueger goes out of his way to dismiss or undercut the argument made by former Wired editor Chris Anderson in The Long Tail. Anderson said the more interesting part of a new market resides not in the top-selling 5 or 10 percent, but in the vast number of smaller players that make up the long tail. Krueger figures that, since Drake's streaming vastly outnumbers all other artists' streaming, the technology must favor superstars and will only consolidate the market further. But he's talking about the froth at the top of the beer glass, and as we all know, shit floats to the top. The most important factor in the impact of popular music is not popularity, but how creativity influences artists decades down the line. Forty years down the line, no one remembers Debby Boone or Andy Gibb, but everyone remembers punk rock, no-wave, and old-school rap. It's a little extreme to argue that obscurity itself is a good thing, but it's important to remember that 1970s artists now considered deeply influential, like Nick Drake, Brian Eno, and the Velvet Underground, did not sell many copies of their work in that era - the re-releases of the 21st century sold vastly more copies than the original releases. Krueger's problem is that he spends all his time talking to the promoters and managers of groups and artists like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Metallica, with predictable results. Why not talk to the promoters who book tiny run-down venues in dozens of cities, or talk to the managers of quasi-underground labels like Homestead, Merge, 4AD, or Sub Pop (hell, the latter company has its own dedicated store in the Seattle Airport now, meaning it's doing a lot better than Forever 21). Do we want to think that Krueger simply doesn't know the indie and underground hip-hop worlds? After all, Obama spokesperson Jay Carney was a big Guided by Voices fan, and Obama's playlists are none too shabby, so Krueger would have to be the nerdy economist outlier in the bunch. I'm more inclined to believe that Krueger thinks the underground is merely random fluctuations in the noise, not worth considering among the superstars. In this, he cannot be more wrong. The musical artists who will be most-remembered 40 or 50 years hence will be ones whose names we barely recognize today. Nevertheless, despite displaying some faulty logic, Krueger is one of the few outside the music industry proper who understand that the CD is doomed for obsolescence in a matter of months, and that vinyl records will need care and feeding to remain a viable physical artifact option. He understands that streaming actually will be good for musicians, both small and large, and provides good advice to newcomers for preparing for a stream-centric career now. Now if only Krueger would turn his eyes from Drake and Cardi B, and start following music that matters.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    Alan Kruger passed away earlier this year. He was a prolific and widely cited Princeton economist. I was most familiar with his research on minimum wage laws and their effects, but he was active in many areas. Then I heard about this book, on the economics of the music business. Anyone seriously interested in the music business, especially since Napster, will likely learn much from this book - and will miss Alan Krueger after reading it. The rap on economics research applied to business is that i Alan Kruger passed away earlier this year. He was a prolific and widely cited Princeton economist. I was most familiar with his research on minimum wage laws and their effects, but he was active in many areas. Then I heard about this book, on the economics of the music business. Anyone seriously interested in the music business, especially since Napster, will likely learn much from this book - and will miss Alan Krueger after reading it. The rap on economics research applied to business is that it is too global or macro and also much to abstract and driven by statistics and data. Since the publication of books like Freakonomics, that provide solid and incisive economic analysis on real life problems and situations. Unfortunately, the supply of accessible books on businesses that provide more analysis and insight than sales pitch and war stories has not kept up with the demand. This is especially the case for industry studies, which examine entire related areas of business. Such analyses inform about what anyone in a business is trying to do and what businesses in a given industry or sector need to do in order to succeed even at a modest level. Industry studies provide the broad set of institutions and rules within which any firm, even a great one, must operate in order to excel and beat its competitors. The industry is the larger set of activities and actors that make a business possible at all. Understanding the industry is key to knowing how anyone gets to make money in a given area. This is especially true for popularly accessible areas like music that affect everybody in a wide variety of ways. Seriously, how many people have entertained the thought of being a musical performer at some time in their lives and how many people know of others trying to pursue such a career. Few of us know people who have really succeeded in spite of the long odds. There have been lots of popular books detailing the current state of the music or related pop culture businesses. These books describe recent developments, include case studies of individuals, and sometimes even collect some data or quote someone who does. Very few of these books do a good job at explaining how the music business works in terms that can be used to explain a variety of industries and professions. The variation in experiences is wide, data are scarce, and the extreme examples are already well known through the media. Krueger’s extraordinary book looks at the music business through the conceptual frameworks of a top economist and adds to that some significant data analysis of important data bases and interviews with real industry players. There are also lots of references for those wishing to read more. Before looking for other books, however, the reader will need to digest the feast that Krueger provides. This is a well written, eye opening, and informative book, although some niche areas in the music business receive much more attention than others. Krueger’s book is organized around seven general economic concept areas that he revisits as needed in his chapters. These include: supply and demand, scale and non-substitutability, the role of luck, complementarities, price discrimination, costs, and non-monetary values. These ideas are developed in eleven chapters, nearly all of which feature some extended interviews as well as the analysis. The book has a nice set of photos of major stars and even has an appendix on the analyses of the Pollstar database reported in the book. I rated the book a 4 but could have easily chosen a 5 instead. Whether I change will depend on how the analysis seems after I think on it a bit more. So I am more at a 4.5 right now.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joe O'Donnell

    “Rockonomics” is a somewhat frustrating read, a potentially excellent idea that isn’t executed as adeptly as it could be and ultimately falls a little flat. It might sound strange to say this about a book by a Princeton economics professor on the financial underpinnings of the music industry, but it’s major failing is that it focuses too much on the inner machinations of the music business at the expense of in-depth economic analysis. In the haste to make the financial and economic elements of “ “Rockonomics” is a somewhat frustrating read, a potentially excellent idea that isn’t executed as adeptly as it could be and ultimately falls a little flat. It might sound strange to say this about a book by a Princeton economics professor on the financial underpinnings of the music industry, but it’s major failing is that it focuses too much on the inner machinations of the music business at the expense of in-depth economic analysis. In the haste to make the financial and economic elements of “Rockonomics” as accessible as possible to a non-academic audience, the author Professor Alan Krueger appears to have sacrificed some intellectual heft. “Rockonomics” sets out to be an exercise in storytelling, an attempt to make apparently complex forces of market economics and globalisation relatable by refracting them through the prism of popular music. Krueger’s central argument is that how the music industry is structured can increasingly be seen as a metaphor for America’s unequal society, with a tiny elite of obscenely-wealthy performers at the apex of a pyramid whose lower levels are comprised of jobbing musicians barely scraping a living. It is Krueger’s contention that elite musicians like Drake and Taylor Swift occupy a similar stratum to the 1%-ers who are so frequently decried by the progressive left. In fact, Krueger sees the unequal nature of showbusiness and the music industry throughout the 20th century as being a precursor to contemporary income inequality in wider society; as he writes, given the financial struggles of middle class families and the growing gap between the wealthy and everyone else ... the US jobs market has become a ‘superstar-winner-takes-all’ affair, much like the music industry”. Krueger has packed “Rockonomics” full of ideas. Too many of them, perhaps. He has a tendency to alight on a fascinating insight, such as how economic forces are compelling bands to have fewer members, or how the economic incentives inherent in streaming services like Spotify are changing the very structure of contemporary music (with songs increasingly being frontloaded with hooks and choruses in the first 30 seconds for fear the inattentive listener will skip to the next track). But, before he can really flesh out and develop these ideas, Krueger will have flitted off to discuss the burgeoning music industry in China, or the changing nature of intellectual copyright in a digital world. One of the most intriguing arguments that Robert Krueger posits is that music industry (particularly after the advent of Napster and file-sharing at the turn of the century) has served as a laboratory for the kind of digital innovation and ‘creative destruction’ that was latter absorbed by the rest of the economy. Innovations like streaming, the destruction of physical formats, the upending of traditional modes of manufacturing and distribution happened to the record industry first, and can now be seen replicated in everything from Netflix to the death of high street retail in the face of e-commerce. But, in a way this represents the problem with “Rockonomics”; this latter contention could have made a fine book in itself, but Krueger dispenses with the argument within a page or two before swiftly moving on to another subject. A further irritation with “Rockonomics” is that Krueger’s financial analysis of the record business is interspersed with interviews with figures from across the industry. Unfortunately, few of these interviews (such as those with a member of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers or with long-forgotten 1980s pop starlet Gloria Estefan) are really illuminating and instead smack of a publisher’s request to break up the dry financial explorations with human interest stories. This encapsulates the major flaw of “Rockonomics”: by not having confidence that the reader will be willing or capable of following the author into the deep economic weeds, it results in a book that is far more fitful and superficial than it should have been. Sadly, “Rockonomics” represents a missed opportunity.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nuno Pereira

    If you are a music geek/fan or if you want to know more about music industry this a book for you. If you aren't...think twice. If you are a music geek/fan or if you want to know more about music industry this a book for you. If you aren't...think twice.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Alan Krugers last book is indeed a doozy: it answers pretty much every question one might have about the Economics of the music industry and how it relates to the overall trends our economy has been facing for the past few decades. Of Primary intrest is how artists and producers has adapted to the rise of streaming (mostly by touring a lot), the winner take all nature of the music industry (which parallels the trend in our society for the widening of the wealth/Income inequality), the importance Alan Krugers last book is indeed a doozy: it answers pretty much every question one might have about the Economics of the music industry and how it relates to the overall trends our economy has been facing for the past few decades. Of Primary intrest is how artists and producers has adapted to the rise of streaming (mostly by touring a lot), the winner take all nature of the music industry (which parallels the trend in our society for the widening of the wealth/Income inequality), the importance of luck in success, the importance of intellectual property rights in the creation of music (and how they sometimes go too far), and the unique pricing mechanics for ticketing where of great interest to myself. The book is also filled with more than a few fun econ nuggets of information that are of interest. Like, did you know that since the 1990's that the price of live shows has grown at a faster rate than the cost of Healthcare in America? Did you know that on average we only spend 10 cents a day on music? How about that the amount we spend on music is less than we spend on potato chips? That kind of stuff makes this book well worth reading. It's a real tragedy that Alan Kruger is no longer with us: Economics has lost a truly gifted mind. I recommend anyone interested to check it out if they get the chance.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alok Kejriwal

    A fabulous, must-read book that teaches you tons about business, economics & music! What’s compelling: - The nitty-gritty details of how the business of music really works. What makes money, the scams, scoundrels, scalawags & success levers involved. - Stunning revelations about consumption & payouts in the music industry ("even the fees of 'unused health club memberships exceed the revenue of recorded music in the USA). - How innovative business models are emerging in music (when you corner someone A fabulous, must-read book that teaches you tons about business, economics & music! What’s compelling: - The nitty-gritty details of how the business of music really works. What makes money, the scams, scoundrels, scalawags & success levers involved. - Stunning revelations about consumption & payouts in the music industry ("even the fees of 'unused health club memberships exceed the revenue of recorded music in the USA). - How innovative business models are emerging in music (when you corner someone, they will fight back!) - The incredible amount OF LUCK involved in music (applicable to all biz). - The hard fact that touring & concerts contribute the MOST revenue to singers. The rest is not even pocket money. - "Live Nation’s profit margins are only 4 -5%." - The shocking facts of music in China (you can't dance in a concert :)) - Plentiful facts! - "A disagreement over money helped break up the Beatles." ; - “Grateful Dead even encouraged their fans to record their concerts, which likely cannibalized album sales (but increased demand for their live shows and fostered fan loyalty)”

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    This is an information-packed book that provides a fascinating look into the music industry which the author refers to as a "winner takes all" marketplace. By the end of the book, one can not help but agree with him. The facts are continuous. There is not one copyright on music -- there are two. An artist is paid differently for music on Youtube, Spotify, vinyl, in a commercial, on Spotify and on Satellite radio. These and other facts are laid out in a clear and compelling way. The book has to be This is an information-packed book that provides a fascinating look into the music industry which the author refers to as a "winner takes all" marketplace. By the end of the book, one can not help but agree with him. The facts are continuous. There is not one copyright on music -- there are two. An artist is paid differently for music on Youtube, Spotify, vinyl, in a commercial, on Spotify and on Satellite radio. These and other facts are laid out in a clear and compelling way. The book has to be read in chunks, or at least I found it to be necessary. All book with a full chapter of endnotes and 10 pages on methodology should be imbibed in chunks, just to keep your sanity. The coverage of the industry is fascinating and every page, just about, provides some new and different fact that changes your perspective. For example, China has just relaxed its rules to allow people who attend a concert to stand and dance.....but only if they stand on their seats!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Oxman

    Excellent book by Krueger. Really puts the music industry into perspective as a financial entity, and it’s astounding how relatively small the industry is in $ terms. (Only $17b a year spent on all music in a year the US, which is abt the same as just one month of revenue from a large US company). Music is one of the best bargains out there, due largely to the love of performing by artists who are willing to perform for very little, if any compensation. Krueger uses data convincingly throughout. Excellent book by Krueger. Really puts the music industry into perspective as a financial entity, and it’s astounding how relatively small the industry is in $ terms. (Only $17b a year spent on all music in a year the US, which is abt the same as just one month of revenue from a large US company). Music is one of the best bargains out there, due largely to the love of performing by artists who are willing to perform for very little, if any compensation. Krueger uses data convincingly throughout. If it had one complaint it’s almost too much data and the book comes off as somewhat dry (albeit extremely informative). Very sad that Krueger passed so young, he was clearly a fantastic mind. I recommend this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diego

    Deliberately *very* divulgative (hence sometimes a little repetitive), but a good, well-researched book nevertheless. My only complaint would be - as others also pointed out - the complete absence of indie music from the picture. I understand that (sadly) music is a superstar economy, but there’s a huge slice of musicians making a livelihood out of it without being in the top 1%, and arguably they’d be a more interesting subject than say #%*^#% U2! Overall, a great effort nevertheless, and I part Deliberately *very* divulgative (hence sometimes a little repetitive), but a good, well-researched book nevertheless. My only complaint would be - as others also pointed out - the complete absence of indie music from the picture. I understand that (sadly) music is a superstar economy, but there’s a huge slice of musicians making a livelihood out of it without being in the top 1%, and arguably they’d be a more interesting subject than say #%*^#% U2! Overall, a great effort nevertheless, and I particularly enjoyed seeing how a world-class economist approached the topic from many different angles, and how he went about collecting and piecing together evidence, often from scratch. RIP Alan Krueger

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ritchie

    (3-1/2 stars) This is a book about economics disguised as a book about the pop music industry. That's not meant to be a slam, because it says so right in the subtitle. But to fully enjoy this book, I think you need more grounding in economic theory than I have. The first half of the book is interesting and I could follow it pretty well, but once he moves into more recent issues like ticketing and streaming music, I got lost, both in terms of music and economics. He used a small number of direct (3-1/2 stars) This is a book about economics disguised as a book about the pop music industry. That's not meant to be a slam, because it says so right in the subtitle. But to fully enjoy this book, I think you need more grounding in economic theory than I have. The first half of the book is interesting and I could follow it pretty well, but once he moves into more recent issues like ticketing and streaming music, I got lost, both in terms of music and economics. He used a small number of direct sources and cites them over and over again, and I was wishing he'd go past those musicians and managers and talk to some other people, but it doesn't happen. Still, I'm not sorry I read this--there are some interesting tidbits i picked up along the way even if the entire picture never quite came into focus for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Virginprune

    Would make an entertaining TED speech. As a book, thin and unsatisfying. Firstly, the author admits he is "only an average music fan". (This may apply to the level of enthusiasm, or to the quality of music he likes.) He's writing as an economist, about a commodity market (US mainstream pop) and the superstar tail of this. (His definition of "quality" in music is very revealing!) So, not really the perspective I'm interested in. But it's good to see things from different perspectives. Secondly, the Would make an entertaining TED speech. As a book, thin and unsatisfying. Firstly, the author admits he is "only an average music fan". (This may apply to the level of enthusiasm, or to the quality of music he likes.) He's writing as an economist, about a commodity market (US mainstream pop) and the superstar tail of this. (His definition of "quality" in music is very revealing!) So, not really the perspective I'm interested in. But it's good to see things from different perspectives. Secondly, the content is seemingly gathered in a scattergun way and poorly collated, analysed and developed. There is far too much repetition, and many key areas are left un- or under-explored. As often happens with books with grandiose titles, this one does NOT reveal "What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics (and Our Future)", at least not in any coherent or meaningfully insightful way. For example, what about alternative revenue models (beyond those covered in the book)? What about music made by the non-star segment (i.e. most musicians)? What about music as art, not created as a means to generate wealth? Do we really think that the entire world will converge on the US mainstream model (as producers and consumers)? If so, why? Hopefully a later edition will be better edited and more comprehensive. A relatively minor third aspect is that the style tends to grate a bit too. OK, he's met a few people in the business and can slice up a few interesting quotes. That's good, and you'd expect it. But there are far too many corny quotes, jammed into the text to appear thematically relevant or rockily humorous. Unnecessary.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    The main reason to read Rockonomics is for the interesting data, which provides insight into music industries around the world—how they have developed as well as the current trends that are being observed. However, this book is repetitive and in my opinion, could be condensed greatly. Furthermore, I did not particularly enjoy Krueger's writing style and some of the artist interviews seemed to undermine the messages of the book. The main reason to read Rockonomics is for the interesting data, which provides insight into music industries around the world—how they have developed as well as the current trends that are being observed. However, this book is repetitive and in my opinion, could be condensed greatly. Furthermore, I did not particularly enjoy Krueger's writing style and some of the artist interviews seemed to undermine the messages of the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ada

    Rockonomics was an interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in popular music revenue models. As a musicologist and an economic nerd this piece delivered new information and it also challenged and added to the old thinking models that I have. Analysis on musicians earnings and the industry's turbulences were the major narratives of this book. It was easy to read and statistics were digestible, on top of that Krueger compares how common economic troubles are present in music. Rockonomics was an interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in popular music revenue models. As a musicologist and an economic nerd this piece delivered new information and it also challenged and added to the old thinking models that I have. Analysis on musicians earnings and the industry's turbulences were the major narratives of this book. It was easy to read and statistics were digestible, on top of that Krueger compares how common economic troubles are present in music. The subtitle What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics (and Our Future) falls flat because the comparisons are quite general and they can be applied to several other fields than music. Nonetheless it was an interesting addition to the book. One of these comparisons was the superstar phenomenon (eg. Elon Musk on the larger economic scale, Lady Gaga on musical scale). I dabbled a bit in the superstar research while studying musicology and Kruegers view on the phenomenon was really fresh. There was the traditional view of how people and their networks drive the phenomenon, but academia has more defining aspects on superstardom. I remember that at least authenticity and equivalent terms are applied to superstars in popular music. (Different genres and their communities also set their own definitions and they vary through time and communities.) Krueger brings luck in the mix. Talent and drive are hardly ever enough in popular music and luck, chance and being at the right place at the right time are factors in breaking to the popular music scene let alone to stardom. The idea of luck might not be new, but this was the first time it really was explored on my radar. But how can one research and quantify luck? The book is centered around American popular music. I was hoping for a broader scope but then again it’s the biggest market for music compared to the national GDP. The book has an entire chapter on China and its possibility to develop a new buzzing market for music. This chapter was a glimpse on how a culture was adjusting to popular music, but it was viewed through westerners eyes and how local characteristics of the music industry are trying to fit to the western habits. Rockonomics also shed some light on interesting quirks of the music industry in the US. It also addresses how the biggest companies in music are relatively minor compared to the platforms that stream music (excluding Spotify and the likes). And those mammoth companies (Google, Apple, Amazon) can influence how music will be consumed and artists are compensated. Majority of popular music artists and bands derive their biggest income from touring and other performances. It would be interesting to see analysis on how Covid has impacted these revenues as performances are canceled or moved to live streams. How the virus will affect popular music in the future is still unknown, but the implications derived from this book and the current news aren’t promising. But then again the music industry is always changing and it might grow to unexpected avenues as a result.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David

    some interesting interviews (e.g., with Mighty Max Weinberg of the E Street Band) about the business end of music to lighten up all the economic theory and data charts about macro view of the industry. As you may have heard, times have changed from the heyday of record store sales of either 45s or LPs, and it seems that quite a few people are consuming downloaded or "streaming" music. It seems that commercially successful musicians now make more of their money from touring than from royalties on some interesting interviews (e.g., with Mighty Max Weinberg of the E Street Band) about the business end of music to lighten up all the economic theory and data charts about macro view of the industry. As you may have heard, times have changed from the heyday of record store sales of either 45s or LPs, and it seems that quite a few people are consuming downloaded or "streaming" music. It seems that commercially successful musicians now make more of their money from touring than from royalties on record sales. As an old person, I was pleased to be brought up to speed on all this, and during the Joe Biden "no malarkey" tour no less. lots of hit-and-run overview of topics, with interesting comparisons or analogies -- for instance, by way of noting that music is a prominent and popular but not really all that huge industry, he points out that the fees for unused health club memberships in the US exceed the total revenue collected for recorded music. Erudite author certainly, but one stylistic quibble -- he must not have thought anyone would read the whole book, as the extent of repetition of same quotes/points/stories is remarkable. Taylor Swift exemplified "price discrimination" by releasing one of her albums for sale [presumably to hard-core fans] several weeks before releasing the songs to streaming service. David Bowie predicted the shift from making money on records to making it on concerts and said music would be available like running water someday. Time-use studies show that we spend a lot of time listening to music and tend to feel better when doing so than when not, but don't spend much on it, so it's a bargain. These and a few others come up over and over. We had a discussion in my ethics in psychology class recently about ethics of downloading music, so I was primed to notice this at the library, and on balance i'm glad i read it, but if you're either (a) unfascinated with the industry [as opposed to the music] part of it or (b) already pretty familiar, I'd skip.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chun Chee

    Alan Krueger has masterfully drawn on economic theory to explain the often overlooked and understudied music industry. We spend way too much time on music, yet our spending on music is arguably less than our spending on potato chips, and that makes music industry an important subject to study. I am particularly intrigued by one of the chapters on the superstar effects in the industry. Alan argues that music industry fulfills the very two ingredients that help create a superstar market, scale and Alan Krueger has masterfully drawn on economic theory to explain the often overlooked and understudied music industry. We spend way too much time on music, yet our spending on music is arguably less than our spending on potato chips, and that makes music industry an important subject to study. I am particularly intrigued by one of the chapters on the superstar effects in the industry. Alan argues that music industry fulfills the very two ingredients that help create a superstar market, scale and imperfect substitution. Superstar effects attribute to income inequality between the very top 1% and the remaining 99% performers, completely eliminating the middle ground. The industry has undergone many technological disruptions that strengthen the superstar effects. Other industries may have similar experiences, though not as extreme as the music industry. Music industry may be a starting point for one to understand inequality better.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Very entertaining for a book written by an economist. A very detailed look at the music business and ways it mirrors the American economy on the whole - especially in being a "superstar economy", with the top 1% getting the biggest piece of the pie. Of particular interest to me were the chapters detailing how streaming and all things "digital" have completely transformed the music economy. Where once acts toured to promote their latest recording (which was their primary income) now artists relea Very entertaining for a book written by an economist. A very detailed look at the music business and ways it mirrors the American economy on the whole - especially in being a "superstar economy", with the top 1% getting the biggest piece of the pie. Of particular interest to me were the chapters detailing how streaming and all things "digital" have completely transformed the music economy. Where once acts toured to promote their latest recording (which was their primary income) now artists release recordings to promote their tours (performing live being the primary way to make money in the digital world). I like that Krueger included a chapter all about how music itself enriches us and is actually one of the best "bargains" we have in our lives.

  21. 4 out of 5

    George

    In choosing the music industry to discuss economics more broadly, Krueger has both found a frame that will be relatable to a lot of people and chosen an industry that has come through (or is perhaps still going through) a dramatic shift in the way that people obtain and engage with its primary product. Krueger admits that he isn't a particular avid fan of music, but he is passionate about economics. I come from the exact opposite perspective. Still, his approach is generally readable, and there In choosing the music industry to discuss economics more broadly, Krueger has both found a frame that will be relatable to a lot of people and chosen an industry that has come through (or is perhaps still going through) a dramatic shift in the way that people obtain and engage with its primary product. Krueger admits that he isn't a particular avid fan of music, but he is passionate about economics. I come from the exact opposite perspective. Still, his approach is generally readable, and there are plenty of nifty factoids thrown in. And yes, when, just a week after finishing the book I found myself at a concert, I did catch myself thinking a little bit about economics.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karthik Subbiah

    Rockonomics is an incredibly interesting book. For someone unfamiliar with economics, this book is a great place to start if you want to get interesting in the subject. That said, it holds plenty of learning for people who are familiar with the subject because of its unique, lucid insights into the music industry and thoughtful comparisons with the world economy. It's a relatively light read, although I found some of the sections on copyright law quite dense. I'd definitely recommend it to anyon Rockonomics is an incredibly interesting book. For someone unfamiliar with economics, this book is a great place to start if you want to get interesting in the subject. That said, it holds plenty of learning for people who are familiar with the subject because of its unique, lucid insights into the music industry and thoughtful comparisons with the world economy. It's a relatively light read, although I found some of the sections on copyright law quite dense. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in economics or music. If you're interested in both, it's an absolute must-read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chung Shun Man

    As an economics student, I don't find the ideas interesting. Contrary to my expectation, the book is quite limited in providing new insights. In general, the book applies old economics models to analyse the music industry. It argued that music streaming is taking over and the main source of income of artists now comes from concerts or other forms of live entertainment rather than their music. If you are a musician and don't have economics background, however, you can learn from the findings in t As an economics student, I don't find the ideas interesting. Contrary to my expectation, the book is quite limited in providing new insights. In general, the book applies old economics models to analyse the music industry. It argued that music streaming is taking over and the main source of income of artists now comes from concerts or other forms of live entertainment rather than their music. If you are a musician and don't have economics background, however, you can learn from the findings in the book and consider how to survive in this increasingly digital world.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adi Chan

    The book is a treat for someone who is interested in the music industry. Alan's anecdotes from interactions with stars from the music business makes it an immersive experience. I think the view of the music industry as a superstar economy as portrayed by Alan can be used to study other industries with a similar model as well. However, the book doesn't have too many insights on the economy in general as the cover suggests. But the in depth analysis of the music business from an economist's point The book is a treat for someone who is interested in the music industry. Alan's anecdotes from interactions with stars from the music business makes it an immersive experience. I think the view of the music industry as a superstar economy as portrayed by Alan can be used to study other industries with a similar model as well. However, the book doesn't have too many insights on the economy in general as the cover suggests. But the in depth analysis of the music business from an economist's point of view makes this book a must read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sudipt Roy

    What a wonderful mix of economics and music - the two fields that fascinate me! The three big strengths of this book are - (1) it reveals about a sector that is always in front of us but the business side is rarely known, (2) author's original estimates of how different parts of the business stack up - breakup of revenue, early of stars vs others, and many more, and (3) it is about people who we know so well and wish to know more. It is a delightful read - educative yet not taxing at all. There a What a wonderful mix of economics and music - the two fields that fascinate me! The three big strengths of this book are - (1) it reveals about a sector that is always in front of us but the business side is rarely known, (2) author's original estimates of how different parts of the business stack up - breakup of revenue, early of stars vs others, and many more, and (3) it is about people who we know so well and wish to know more. It is a delightful read - educative yet not taxing at all. There are useful references for those who wish to dig more. Highly recommended!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wilte

    The economics of music. Some chapters are really good (on scalprng and copyright), economic theory gives a very good insight there. Other chapters less so, for example because they contain descriptives on how much money is made with streaming (2017 figures don't age well). Chapter 10 on the global market is basically only about China. The boxes with interviews did not fit very well in the narrative of the book. Still, the book had some good bits and was an easy read. Summary in Twitter thread: h The economics of music. Some chapters are really good (on scalprng and copyright), economic theory gives a very good insight there. Other chapters less so, for example because they contain descriptives on how much money is made with streaming (2017 figures don't age well). Chapter 10 on the global market is basically only about China. The boxes with interviews did not fit very well in the narrative of the book. Still, the book had some good bits and was an easy read. Summary in Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/wilte/status/1312...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    A 3.5 star one I'm rounding down. Krueger has a lot of interesting insights and data about the music industry and how it informs economics generally. He enjoys the topics and it reflects well on his book. The issue is the book needed further editing. Points repeat when they didn't need to. Some great points get tired on their third mention. Krueger killed himself after writing this and I think it tinges how one views the sections on mental health. Was this his final contribution or a call for hi A 3.5 star one I'm rounding down. Krueger has a lot of interesting insights and data about the music industry and how it informs economics generally. He enjoys the topics and it reflects well on his book. The issue is the book needed further editing. Points repeat when they didn't need to. Some great points get tired on their third mention. Krueger killed himself after writing this and I think it tinges how one views the sections on mental health. Was this his final contribution or a call for his own mental health that was ignored? Worth the read but also begs the question of what could have been, in a book and for the author.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    I love rock and music and live performances and this was informative about all of those things. I’m not sure how much more I learned than I knew before, but I will say this went into a lot of detail about some of the nuances like the different costs to providers to play music depending on who they are - radio, Spotify, YouTube, etc. I do wish the author was alive now to have studied and written about the music business in the time of COVID. He would have surely found this to be a rich period of I love rock and music and live performances and this was informative about all of those things. I’m not sure how much more I learned than I knew before, but I will say this went into a lot of detail about some of the nuances like the different costs to providers to play music depending on who they are - radio, Spotify, YouTube, etc. I do wish the author was alive now to have studied and written about the music business in the time of COVID. He would have surely found this to be a rich period of data and opinion.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    As a musician and economist, I just loved this wide-ranging, thoughtful book on the economics of the music industry. I learned so much about artists and aspects of the industry that I had underappreciated. Boy did Alan really know his stuff (obviously economics but also music!!). And he was such a talented qualitative interviewer and overall storyteller. I'm so sad I'll never have the chance to talk to him about this amazing work. As a musician and economist, I just loved this wide-ranging, thoughtful book on the economics of the music industry. I learned so much about artists and aspects of the industry that I had underappreciated. Boy did Alan really know his stuff (obviously economics but also music!!). And he was such a talented qualitative interviewer and overall storyteller. I'm so sad I'll never have the chance to talk to him about this amazing work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Gessner

    Without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read. If you enjoy the music industry (listening to music, streaming, live concerts, merchandise, etc) and economics, then you’re in for a treat. Krueger explains it all in detail, in a very easy-to-read format, backed up by facts from industry insiders. Loved every page!

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