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The economics of social media stars: An empirical investigation of stardom, popularity, and success on YouTube

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  • Budzinski, Oliver
  • Gaenssle, Sophia

Abstract

The economic literature on the superstar phenomenon provides empirical evidence on different types of stars, above all athletes and musicians. A new and, to our best knowledge, unexplored area of this star theory arouse with the development of social media markets. In this paper, we analyse a unique sample of 200 YouTube stars out of four different video categories to address the research gap. By employing econometric methods from panel data analysis, we contribute to answering the following research questions: (i) Are the classic theoretical concepts of popularity and superstardom by Rosen, MacDonald and Adler applicable? (ii) Can social media stars actively influence their popularity by employing special upload strategies? We find empirical evidence that former success positively and significantly influences the current success of social media stars, as theoretically presumed by MacDonald. Furthermore, the results support Adler's assumptions that the most popular stars snowball into superstardom due to higher growth rates. Finally, our investigation shows that social media stars can actively influence their popularity with distinctive upload strategies and market behaviour.

Suggested Citation

  • Budzinski, Oliver & Gaenssle, Sophia, 2018. "The economics of social media stars: An empirical investigation of stardom, popularity, and success on YouTube," Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers 112, Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuiedp:112
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brinja Meiseberg, 2014. "Trust the artist versus trust the tale: performance implications of talent and self-marketing in folk music," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 38(1), pages 9-42, February.
    2. Adler, Moshe, 1985. "Stardom and Talent," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 208-212, March.
    3. Budzinski, Oliver & Pannicke, Julia, 2017. "Does popularity matter in a TV song competition? Evidence from a national music contest," Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers 106, Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Economics.
    4. H. Leibenstein, 1950. "Bandwagon, Snob, and Veblen Effects in the Theory of Consumers' Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 183-207.
    5. MacDonald, Glenn M, 1988. "The Economics of Rising Stars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 155-166, March.
    6. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
    7. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    8. Josef Falkinger, 2008. "Limited Attention as a Scarce Resource in Information-Rich Economies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(532), pages 1596-1620, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social media; digital media; popularity; superstar theory; cultural economics; media economics;

    JEL classification:

    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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