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Information and the Skewness of Music Sales

  • Ken Hendricks
  • Alan Sorensen
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    This paper studies the role of product discovery in the demand for recorded music. We show that releasing a new album causes a substantial and permanent increase in sales of the artist's old albums-especially if the new release is a hit. Patterns in these "backward spillovers" suggest that they result from consumers discovering the artist upon hearing the new release. To explore the implications of consumers' incomplete information, we estimate a simple, learning-based model of market demand. Our results imply that the distribution of sales is substantially more skewed than it would be if consumers were more fully informed. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/599283
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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 117 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (04)
    Pages: 324-369

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:117:y:2009:i:2:p:324-369
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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    1. Jay Pil Choi, 1998. "Brand Extension as Informational Leverage," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 655-669.
    2. Matthew Gentzkow, 2007. "Valuing New Goods in a Model with Complementarity: Online Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 713-744, June.
    3. Luis Cabral, 2000. "Stretching Firm and Brand Reputation," Working Papers 00-07, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    4. Birger Wernerfelt, 1988. "Umbrella Branding as a Signal of New Product Quality: An Example of Signalling by Posting a Bond," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(3), pages 458-466, Autumn.
    5. Rob, Rafael & Waldfogel, Joel, 2006. "Piracy on the High C's: Music Downloading, Sales Displacement, and Social Welfare in a Sample of College Students," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 29-62, April.
    6. Ginger Zhe Jin & Phillip Leslie, 2003. "The Effect of Information on Product Quality: Evidence from Restaurant Hygiene Grade Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 409-451.
    7. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
    8. Kenneth Hendricks & Alan Sorensen & Thomas Wiseman, 2012. "Observational Learning and Demand for Search Goods," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 1-31, February.
    9. C. Lanier Benkard, 2000. "Learning and Forgetting: The Dynamics of Aircraft Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
    10. Alan T. Sorensen, 2007. "BESTSELLER LISTS AND PRODUCT VARIETY -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 715-738, December.
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