Back in my university days, I was responsible for putting on Performing Arts shows in our Student Union Building (SUB).

A band from Winnipeg was in Vancouver and struggling in Spring 1969.  They needed some money; so we decided to put them on for a noon hour “sock hop” in the SUB ballroom.

The pay was “Scale”, as I recall it, $106.  They tried to negotiate for a percentage of the gate; but since I was charging 25¢ admission, they understood they were better off getting union scale/  So that worked out to about $25 per person for the band members for their hour or so set.

These guys had just released a single called “Lightfoot” and it was going no where.  I liked it, but few enough others did.

Then some DJ turned the record over and started playing the other side, which was called “These Eyes.”  Their value shifted; skyrocketed.  They still had to do the concert because they had a commitment and the full impact of the hit hadn’t hit.  But within a few weeks they were playing network TV and getting thousands of dollars for concerts.

So, they did nothing different from their $106 gig.  Their labour was the same; they played essentially the same songs, but now they were worth 100 times more.  It is an interesting economic conundrum how value can change so rapidly

The same question arises for the increase in value for a back catalog of music when some pop star dies.  Or to an author or actor when a book or movie becomes a huge hit.  How does economic theory handle the change?  Economists tell me that the gain of one entity simply means demand or value has shifted from one thing to another and there is no increase of wealth overall.  But in the micro sense, there is a serious shift in wealth to the individuals.

It shows the impact a psychological force can have on economic demand and value.  If a marketer can shift preferences, even a little, it can have a dramatic impact on product or company value.  It is a great demonstration of leverage.  A little money in marketing can add a whole lot to a brand, as we have shown before with Texaco.

It gives one pause to think what an hour of one’s time is really worth.  Sometimes it isn’t worth much; but don’t sell yourself short on what it could be worth.  You just need that one hit tune.

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