Archives for music



Can the Right Music Get You Out of a Traffic Ticket?

Aaron Pilkington, an officer trainee at Air Force Officer Training School in Montgomery, Ala., writes to say:

I was driving down the road the other day with a fellow trainee, pointing out to him that the particular road along which we were driving always has police officers hiding out and catching people speeding. Just as I said that, sure enough, we saw a police car pull out with lights on and pull someone over.  My friend, Bill, said that he wondered if the song “Sweet Home Alabama” would work in Alabama. I asked him to elaborate.

My friend, who is from Rhode Island, explained that a couple of years ago he was speeding and got pulled over by a police officer.  He said that the song “Sweet Home Alabama” was on the radio and that somehow the officer let him off on a warning.  Some time later, he was pulled over again and had the song on his iPod.  In the time between being pulled over by the police officer and the officer walking up to his window, he pulled the song up on his iPod and left it on loud enough to be heard by the police officer, but not too loud.  Again, success.  He said this happened one more time just a couple of months ago in Florida and that he now always has at the ready a CD with the song “Sweet Home Alabama,” just in case he gets pulled over again.

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Economists Needed in the Music Business!

For the first time, Austin City Limits, one of the two biggest music festivals in town, is running on two weekends instead of just one.  Unfortunately, the price for a pass for the second weekend on Craigslist is now down to half the festival sponsor’s original asking price.  Why?

1. The asking price for the second weekend was the same as for the first—not smart when you’re doubling the number of offerings; and the headliners are identical on the two weekends. The amount supplied is double in quantity, but no different in quality or even in variety; double supply, no change in demand.

2. Demand is almost certainly lower on the second weekend, since that is the weekend of the UT-Oklahoma game in Dallas.

It was probably a bad business decision to price the second weekend the same as the first. 

(HT: KM)



In Praise of the Music in Freakonomics Radio

I think that our engineer/mixmaster David Herman does a fantastic job of making Freakonomics Radio podcasts sound great (no matter what you may think of all the talking that interrupts the music and other audio effects).

But there is of course a lot of heterogeneity in personal preferences. Here’s an e-mail we just received from a listener:

Heard your show for the first time yesterday on Tipping.  Loved all the speaking clips and analysis. HATED the musical interludes so much that we (my husband, kids and I) cannot fathom ever listening again unless they are removed. They gave us a bad headache and were so distracting from the content that we had to turn the show off before the end.  Please consider removing them. Thanks.

Afraid we just lost a family of listeners, as we won’t be removing all music from our episodes. Happy to say this is an uncommon complaint; much more common is an e-mail asking where to get hold of the music that appears. FWIW, every time we put out a podcast, the accompanying blog post includes a transcript of the episode which lists the music.



FREAK-est Links

1. Is male fertility declining? Or do we need more data?

2. The internet industry is considering adding over 1,000 new domains, but some are worried about infrastructure effects.

3. Harry Potter novelist J.K. Rowling‘s crime novel hits #1 on the Amazon bestseller list, less than a week after she was revealed as the book’s author.

4. So you want to invest in the (legal) marijuana industry?

5. How long is the average PhD dissertation? Econ lands on the short side.  (HT: Eric Jones)

6. The new era of music: how much does Spotify pay its artists? Next to nothing.



Do Rappers Exaggerate Their Wealth?

In his new album, rapper Jay-Z expresses skepticism about some of his colleagues’ claims of extraordinary wealth, saying, “The truth in my verses, versus, your metaphors about what your net worth is.”  So are your favorite rappers lying about how rich they are?  Bloomberg Businessweek straightens out the confusion with a great graphic comparing alleged vs. actual wealth.  Here’s a preview: Nicki Minaj is not “mak[ing] a billi like a big goat.” (HT: The Big Picture)



Where to Find the Music in Freakonomics Radio Podcasts?

A few times a week, we get an e-mail like this one, from Oliver Breidenbach:

Hi guys,

I love the music you choose for the background of the podcast. Can you post a playlist on your site or let me know where I can find the music? I think many fans will enjoy that.

One reason we get this question so often is that the music in our podcasts is so good. So is, IMHO, the entire audio soundscape. All of that is primarily the doing of one man, David Herman, who is Freakonomics Radio’s sound engineer/technical director/trivia repository — and more.

As for where to learn about the music: we list it in each show’s transcript, which accompanies the blog post that is published with each episode. Our podcast archive page is here. Enjoy!



Pay After You Go?

We’ve blogged extensively about pay-as-you wish pricing schemes. Springwise reports that a Spanish concert promoter is now experimenting with post-concert pay-as-you-wish pricing:

Spanish promoters Caravana de Emerxencia have recognized this problem and addressed it through their upcoming gig, where attendees can decide the price of the ticket when they leave.

The concert is taking place on April 4 at Sala Capitol in Santiago, northern Spain. Four bands will be playing on the night – SkarallaosChotokoeuSkarnivals and Swingdigentes. At the end of the evening attendees can pay whatever price they think the event deserves.

How do you like this plan? How do you think you would respond?



Making a Living Through Pay-as-You-Wish

A TED talk by musician Amanda Palmer explores the concept of pay-as-you-wish funding for artists and performers:  

Right at this same time, I’m signing and hugging after a gig, and a guy comes up to me and hands me a $10 bill, and he says, “I’m sorry, I burned your CD from a friend.” “But I read your blog, I know you hate your label. I just want you to have this money.”

And this starts happening all the time. I become the hat after my own gigs, but I have to physically stand there and take the help from people, and unlike the guy in the opening band, I’ve actually had a lot of practice standing there. Thank you.

And this is the moment I decide I’m just going to give away my music for free online whenever possible, so it’s like Metallica over here, Napster, bad; Amanda Palmer over here, and I’m going to encourage torrenting, downloading, sharing, but I’m going to ask for help, because I saw it work on the street. So I fought my way off my label and for my next project with my new band, the Grand Theft Orchestra, I turned to crowdfunding, and I fell into those thousands of connections that I’d made, and I asked my crowd to catch me. And the goal was 100,000 dollars. My fans backed me at nearly 1.2 million, which was the biggest music crowdfunding project to date.

And here‘s a rundown on other performers who’ve explored the pay-as-you-wish strategy.