Nate Silver wrote the definitive story on Donald Trump and nobody knows it.
That’s right, America’s favorite statistician, the diviner of data, the man who makes sense out of chaos, analyzed the polls and found out that while Trump had the highest rating, his unfavorables were through the roof. In other words, only a small percentage of GOP voters favored him, uneducated on the issues to boot, and when the field consolidated, Trump would be history.
But unlike during the last election cycle, Nate Silver is no longer on the front page of the “New York Times,” and therefore his insights have no traction. In other words, the bloviating press that loves a horse race is going on about the success of Donald Trump when the truth is contrary to the hubbub.
It’s kind of like making a hit record that only plays on your local college radio station.
The old days of the internet are through. The ones wherein greatness surfaced and we were all the better for it. Today, you’ve got to attach your track to the coattails of an entity with a large audience, otherwise you’re just pissing in the wind.
How did we get here, how did it come to this?
The cacophony, the sheer plethora of information.
Furthermore, the Silver situation proves that the stuff with ink, that gets most attention, may not be the best. Which is why, in the music business, we’ve got story after story about the flavor of the moment that does not resonate with you when you check it out.
So what do we know…
He with the greatest audience wins, irrelevant of veracity or quality.
The “New York Times” survives, Nate Silver is marginalized. If you’re going it alone, be prepared to enter the wilderness, and possibly stay there. Because concomitant with the footprint of the powerhouses is the inability to compete with them. Bing proved this, Google was good enough. If you’re not reinventing the wheel, stay out of the fracas.
Meanwhile, our nation is going to look different in the years to come. Truth will out. Because a younger generation has grown up on facts, and they refuse to live in denial. It’s baby boomers who are blowhards, who believe if they just yell loud enough what they say will come true. But when numbers can be marshaled that contradict common wisdom, watch out.
This is the same battle over transparency that the Berklee report stirred up. If you think the labels are gonna get away with voodoo royalty reports in the future, you’re probably still using a flip-phone. As the oldsters retire, the young ‘uns bring in new models.
So what we’ve learned is you’re better off playing with the big boys than going it alone. Forget all the hogwash about independence, being able to make your record and release it yourself. To crickets in most instances. Macklemore may have been on an indie LABEL, but it was promoted by the major’s MACHINE! If you’re playing for all the marbles, don’t play by yourself.
And just because a record is number one, that doesn’t mean much. The latest statistics tell us that streaming services are a hotbed of catalog. The truth is that at least half the audience would rather listen to the certified oldies than forage for new stuff. Which is why the legends do such incredible live business. The industry doesn’t like this emphasis on catalog, it gets excited about the new, labels invest heavily in the new. Did you read the dearly departed Dave Goldberg’s report to the Sony brass? He said to cut costs on new and focus on old. But his story got buried, pardon the pun.
And know that the reason so much of the Top Forty, what is in the news, doesn’t spread, is because it’s just not good enough. It appeals to a very small hard core. And the truth is the most money in music is made when something appeals to everybody. So, our industry would be healthier if we got consensus and put a push behind that which got the most favorable response. And that will happen, when the millennials take over.
So what we’ve learned is it’s not you. You’re right, the media industrial complex is frequently hyping crap, and that which doesn’t fit its paradigm, however great, is lost in the tsunami of information.
Nate Silver turned chaos into comprehension. Read his report and you’ll see that Trump is a marginal player who can’t win. But few know this.
We’re waiting for the music business to turn chaos into comprehension. The problem is it’s run by old farts inured to the old ways. Obfuscating so they can line their own pockets. Imagine if we researched more records and then pushed those with the most favorable ratings. Would the chart look the same?
Of course not.