Daniel Gross in Slate:
In recent years, economists have been drawn to the music industry like lawyers to a car wreck. Napster, Grokster, digital sampling, and Chinese piracy have thrown the industry into chaos. Economists have realized it’s the best place to study what happens when new technologies disrupt established industries. They have also realized it’s really fun.
Among the crowd rushing the stage is Alan Krueger, the Princeton labor economist who is an expert on the minimum wage and many other things. In a paper written with Marie Connolly, which managed to cite both singer Paul Simon and Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, Krueger set out to answer some fundamental questions of what he and Connolly call “rockonomics.” (This is not to be confused with Freakonomics, the book co-written by University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner.*) Why are Cher concerts so expensive? How have falling record sales and the rise of downloading affected big-name stars? And what’s the deal with scalping?