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Information and the Skewness of Music Sales

Ken Hendricks and Alan Sorensen

Journal of Political Economy, 2009, vol. 117, issue 2, 324-369

Abstract: 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.

Date: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:117:y:2009:i:2:p:324-369