Friday, January 7, 2011

Top 10 tunes suggest slow beat for economy into 2011

- NZIER Insight 22  by: Dr Johannah Branson, John Ballingall,  and Peter Nicholls  with assistance from Jessica Matthewson, 24 December 2010.

The bands fighting it out for the coveted Christmas No.1 are in tune with the latest forecasts for the economy

When we have less money to spend, we not only buy less music, but it seems we also buy different types of music. A recent study of pop music preferences over the past 501 years found that during tough economic times we are more likely to listen to “tougher” artists and songs. Instead of escaping into bright and bubbly pop songs, we turn to more serious and meaningful songs from older and more established artists, for understanding and comfort. The rhythms of recession tend to be darker, longer and slower – like the economy. More cheerful, lighter and faster music booms when the economy does.

So what does New Zealand’s musical preferences suggest about the economic outlook for 2011? Using a highly scientific method, our in-depth analysis of the current New Zealand Top 10 songs (see hyperlink above) aligns well with our take on the economy. The outlook is mixed and messy, like the tunes played by a drunken DJ.

Music stores and other retailers are downbeat this holiday season. Consumer spending has been humming quietly for the past 12 months and, despite ringing tills in the November and December sales, hasn’t risen to its usual Christmas crescendo this year. As the echoes of recession fade, households are still cautious about their spending and focused on repaying debt whilst waiting for employment, wages and the housing market to pick up the beat.


1 comment:

  1. The impactof economics on music is profound. A couple of jazz examples are:

    - lack of graphite (and the high cost of what was available) during the WW II led to the 78 rpm format of 2.5 - 3.0 minute maximum and hence the structure of songs of the day.

    - costs too made the large swing bands of the '30s a non economic proposition. This led to the rise of the quartet which accounted for most of the bebop era output and remains a popular format to this day.

    - rent seeking too played a major part. The availability and venues played in by artists such as Thelonious Monk was determined in large measure by the union driven "cabaret card" regime designed to "protect" incumbent musicians. Like most cartel based activity it failed... but only after imposing considerable costs.