Interesting look at how songs spread in terms of radio play. The good
thing about this book is that it is not a "dumbed down story book"
"economics for the rest of us" kind of book. The bad thing is that he
uses a lot of jargon, which can make for some dense reading. In some
points, he remembers to explain the concepts in English, in others you
have to follow along.
The key point about radio at least is that song diffusion does not
follow an S curve like it would from being slowly spread by "word of
mouth" and then taking off. New songs from big artists generally follow
an "all at once" kind of curve, meaning that there's likely one source
for the all-of-a-sudden popularity; a source that the author fingers as
music industry promotion, including, but not limited to "payola".
There are also some good thoughts on the future of music. Here's one
that also highlights the language utilized throughout:
"Perhaps the strongest theoretical case for the importance of
boundary-spanning in general, and distributor relations with surrogate
consumers in particular, comes from Neuman's Future of the Mass Audience
(1991) which notes that barriers to entry for production costs and
distribution costs could be (and in retrospect have proven to be)
ameliorated by technology, but audience attention is inherently scarce
and so barriers to entry through promotion are an eternal issue"
In other words, even though you can easily make music (or write books,
or whatever) without financial support, because technology has made it
cheaper, getting the public's attention is still difficult and this
means there is still a role for publishers as promoters/gatekeepers.
There is also some discussion of the difficulty songs that do not easily
fit into easy categories have, which is probably not news to some of my
favorite bands like the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Fishbone.